Written Notice of Variance Refusal Issued by an SCO to Be Appealable to the Safety Codes Council

The Government of Alberta recently proclaimed sections 19 and 25 of the Safety Codes Amendment Act, which establishes a person’s right to appeal a Written Notice of Variance Refusal issued by a safety codes officer (SCO). Beginning December 1, 2021, variance refusals issued by an SCO will be appealable to the Safety Codes Council (Council).

Variances Recognize Safe and Effective Alternatives

Variances provide the authority and flexibility to recognize safe and effective alternatives to codes and standards adopted under the Safety Codes Act (Act). SCOs are expected to review variance applications and supporting documentation and exercise due diligence to ensure that the proposed variance meets the requirements of section 38 of the Act.

If an SCO is not satisfied that a proposed variance will provide approximately equivalent or greater safety performance than that provided under the Act, then the SCO will issue a Written Notice of Variance Refusal. Other possible grounds for refusing a variance may include incomplete information, incorrect information, or the variance proposal falling outside the scope of the Act.

Changes to the Refusals Process

It is recommended that SCOs use the Council’s Written Notice of Refusal template when issuing a refusal. As the Written Notice could become the subject of an appeal hearing, it is important to have well prepared formal documentation. The Council’s template provides details on the information that an SCO needs to include in order to ensure that the reason for the refusal is clear.

Persons wishing to appeal a Written Notice of Variance Refusal will need to submit the Council’s Notice of Appeal Form with a copy of the Written Notice and the $500 appeal fee within 30 days from the date of service of the Written Notice of Variance Refusal. The SCO who issued the Written Notice of Variance Refusal will attend the appeal hearing as the respondent.

Resources from the Safety Codes Council

A number of resources are available from the Council to assist with the variance application and appeals process. This appeals video provides an overview of our process, and an FAQ document provides further information on roles and responsibilities.

Register for the Free Webinar

UPDATE: This webinar is now full. The presentation will be recorded and posted on our website at a later date.

In addition, the Council is holding a free one-hour variance webinar for SCOs on December 8 at 9:00 am. This webinar will provide information on SCO responsibilities in the variance process with a particular focus on refusals and the appeals process. Click here to register.

Further questions about the appeals process can be referred to appeals@safetycodes.ab.ca.