This edition of the Vancouver Building By-law (VBBL) is a modified version of the British Columbia Building Code of Canada 2006, which in turn is a modified version of the National Building Code of Canada 2005. Modifications were prepared by the Chief Building Official Office of the Community Services with comments and recommendations from the construction industry and various professional groups.

The National Building Code of Canada (NBC) is prepared by the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC) and is published by the National Research Council. It is prepared in the form of a recommended model code to permit adoption by an appropriate authority, in this case indirectly the City of Vancouver.

Vancouver is enabled under the Vancouver Charter to adopt By-laws to regulate the construction of buildings. The Vancouver Building By-law regulates the design and construction requirements for buildings as well as the administrative provisions for permitting, inspection, and enforcement of these requirements.

Vancouver's ability to adopt its own By-law regulating the construction of buildings is unique in the Province and also unusual in the rest of Canada. It is an important authority, which allows Council the opportunity to be responsive to local issues impacting on building safety.

The VBBL addresses the following five broad objectives:

It establishes a standard of safety for the construction of buildings, including additions or alterations, the evaluation of buildings undergoing a change of major occupancy and upgrading an unacceptable hazard. Requirements for workmanship related to aesthetics only are not considered appropriate for the By-law although requirements for quality and durability that affect health and safety are appropriate.

Relationship between the Vancouver Building By-law and the Vancouver Fire By-law

A special relationship exists between the Vancouver Building By-law and the Vancouver Fire By-law with respect to fire safety. The contents of both By-laws must be considered in building design, construction and maintenance. The role of each By-law with respect to fire safety can be summarized as follows:

Vancouver Building By-law (VBBL) — establishes a satisfactory standard of fire safety for the construction of new buildings, the reconstruction of existing buildings, including additions, alterations, or changes in major occupancy and upgrading of buildings to remove an unacceptable fire hazard.*

Vancouver Fire By-law (VFBL) — establishes a satisfactory standard for fire prevention, fire fighting and life safety in buildings in use,* including standards for the conduct of activities causing fire hazards, maintenance of fire safety equipment and egress facilities, standards for portable extinguishers, limitations on building contents and the establishment of fire safety plans, including the organization of supervisory staff for emergency purposes. In addition, the VFBL establishes the standard for prevention, containment and suppression of fires originating outside buildings, which may present a hazard to a community, and sets standards for the storage and handling of dangerous goods, and flammable and combustible liquids.

The two By-laws are intended as complementary and coordinated documents in order to reduce to a minimum the possibility of conflict in their respective contents. To aid in their effective application, building and fire officials must be fully conversant with the fire safety standards of both By-laws. Such officials should be involved both in the review and the approval of plans with respect to fire safety prior to granting a building permit and with the inspection of buildings for fire safety. This is the only way to determine that all known hazards have been considered and a satisfactory standard of fire safety has been achieved.(1)

(1)  The extent of application of the VBBL and the VFBL to the upgrading of buildings to remove an unacceptable fire hazard should be based on the judgement of the Chief Building Official and the City Fire Chief, who must deal with each case on its merits.

Objective-Based Code Format

The Vancouver Building By-law (VBBL) is published in an objective-based format for the first time in the 2007 edition. The objective-based format organizes the VBBL into three Divisions:

In the 2007 VBBL, Division B provisions are linked to:

In addition, with the electronic version of the By-law, each provision is linked to two new types of explanatory material:

Previous explanatory material found in Appendices continues to be provided.

A complete description of the objective-based code structure is available on the Building Policy Branch website (

Additional Information

Numbering System

A consistent numbering system has been used throughout the Vancouver Building By-law. The first number indicates the Part of the By-law; the second, the Section in the Part; the third, the Subsection; and the fourth, the Article in the Subsection. The detailed provisions are found at the Sentence level (indicated by numbers in brackets), and Sentences may be broken down into Clauses and Subclauses. This structure is illustrated as follows:

  3 Part
  3.5. Section
  3.5.2. Subsection Article Sentence Clause Subclause

Change Indication

Technical changes or additions relative to the 1998 edition of the BC Building Code are enclosed by angle brackets (< >). In the printed version of the Vancouver Building By-law, change indicators have not been provided:

By-law users wishing to identify specific changes within tables, figures or Part 4 should consult electronic versions of the Vancouver Building By-law, in which changes are indicated by a green underline.

No change indication is provided for renumbered or deleted provisions.

Requirements Unique to Vancouver

All text in Division A through Division C, in the Appendices and in the index that is unique to Vancouver has been printed over a shaded background. This flag was utilized to provide the user of this By-law with a means by which to differentiate between the Vancouver provisions of this By-law and those of the 2006 BCBC on which this By-law is based. Where the provisions of Vancouver have required the deletion of the 2006 BCBC text, and no Vancouver text has replaced the deleted text, the shaded symbol "[ . . . ]" has been used to alert the reader that a deletion has been made and that there is a difference from the 2006 BCBC text.

Online information

Additional information relating to the Vancouver Building By-law is available on the City of Vancouver website at

Metric Conversion

All values in the VBBL are given in metric units. A conversion table of imperial equivalents for the most common units used in building design and construction is located at the end of the Index.

Commercial Rights to Reproduce the Vancouver Building By-law

Copyright in the Vancouver Building By-law is owned by the Queen’s Printer of British Columbia. All rights are reserved. Reproduction of copyright material by any means is prohibited without the written consent of the Queen’s Printer. Request for permission to reproduce the Vancouver Building By-law must be sent to:

This publication contains some material the copyright in which is held by the National Research Council of Canada and by the Province of British Columbia. The National Research Council of Canada and the Province of British Columbia make no representations, warranties or conditions, statutory or otherwise as to the accuracy or completeness of its copyright material, including the opinions expressed therein, or its suitability for any user’s requirements.

Contact Information

The City of Vancouver welcomes comments and suggestions for improvements to Vancouver Building By-law. Comments and inquiries on the use of this By-law and suggestions for its improvement are welcomed and should be submitted to: