My first concern is with section 188.8.131.52 which exempts houses from barrier-free design requirements. Continuing to build new housing with architectural barriers violates our Ontario Human Rights Code (Part 1, sub 2), our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (section 15), and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Article 9). Canada adopted the UN New Urban Agenda 2030 on October 20th so it looks like we're well on our way to breaching that too (Sustainable Development Goals, which include Universal Design). I guess we might as well be consistent in our discriminatory policies, as it relates to the millions of Canadians with disabilities. Our Charter has forbidden disability discrimination since 1985 (delayed by three years, as part of our Constitution Act 1982) but I guess this doesn't apply to housing, where we all spend the greatest portion of any 24 hour period, and where billions in health care costs are spent yearly on injuries in the home (according to the Public Health Agency of Canada). But yes, let's keep up with status quo... discrimination and preventable injuries (and tragically, thousands of preventable deaths as well).
My second concern is with the loopholes that have allowed major developers to avoid the changes to section 184.108.40.206 (5) to (8) that occured on January 1, 2015. For the sake of a relevant example, let's use Ottawa's tallest Mixed Use building, the Claridge Icon (10 levels of underground parking + 47 storeys). Here's a photo of their Sales Office and site, earlier today, on Preston Street in Ottawa.
Changes to the OBC on January 1, 2015 required 15% of units to have basic accessibility features, as an excerpt from our Ontario Building Code shows here:
So here's the problem, it's called Phased Building Permits. On January 28, 2015, Permit #1500335 was issued for excavation only (for 10 levels of underground parking and 46 storeys). Then on August 31, 2016, Permit #1606066 was issued to "Construct a 47 storey mixed use (retail, office, residential) building with 10 levels of underground parking". By submitting a very limited permit application in 2014, for excavation only, this entire project was grandfathered under the older rules of OBC 220.127.116.11 (5). So here we are approaching two years since the code change and they haven't built one storey above ground yet (as my photo shows). 15% of units in this project would have added a number of VisitAble units to Ottawa's limited inventory of private dwellings with these basic accessibility features. But instead, we've continued the pattern of architectural barriers in Group C buildings, where these features are the most cost effective (and most cost effective in new construction as well, up to 20 times more economical than renovating for accessibility). And it's the only dwelling type not exempt in 18.104.22.168. Is it any wonder that our inventory is so low? Is it any wonder that I've brought my concerns to the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes, via Code Change Request 964? Am I justifiably annoyed as an advocate/activist interested in Universal Design for new housing?
You be the judge.