The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Canada has produced two new guidance documents for the commercial real estate sector, drawing on lessons learned over the past the 16 months and BOMA Canada’s earlier pioneering work on pandemic planning, which dates back to the emergence of SARS in the early 2000s. Together, the 2021 pandemic guide and accompanying summary of evolving legal issues provides real estate professionals with a comprehensive, but concise overview of the resources they’ll need to develop and execute an effective response to future pandemic scenarios and/or localized health emergencies.
“At the time of publication, this (COVID-19) public health crisis is still with us, but hopefully an end is in sight,” notes Benjamin Shinewald, president and chief executive officer of BOMA Canada. “The goal of this guide is to give as much easy-to-read, relevant information as practical. Each section is only a 3- to 5-minute read, with a liberal use of “at-a-glance” bullet points.”
Ironically, COVID-19 delayed what had been a planned 2020 update to the BOMA Canada pandemic guide, but also generated myriad new insights on the nine key topics it covers along with a whole new ancillary examination of arising legal questions. The resulting 2021 edition provides direction on the basics of pandemic planning, as well as action areas related to: communications; employee health and safety considerations; information technology and cybersecurity; security and life safety; supplies and suppliers; air quality; cleaning and sanitation; and legal issues.
The last of these action areas — legal issues — presents two distinct, but equally important sets of obligations for building owners and managers who are both employers and contracted service providers. That’s challenge enough to necessitate the Pandemic Guide’s companion document, outlining key considerations related to employees, tenants and compliance with public health dictates and other laws.
“If there was any doubt before COVID-19 whether property owners/landlords or property managers had an obligation to have a pandemic plan or health emergency plan in place, that doubt for the most part has been (from both a legal and practical perspective) completely eclipsed,” it reiterates.
Both new publications will be available for free download beginning Friday, July 16. Meanwhile, BOMA Canada’s Pathway Back to Work, published in 2020, continues provide details and checklists for a range of specific operational concerns including signage, escalators, lobbies, washrooms, food courts, trash, access, water and plumbing.