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BCC Ruling No. 98-36-641

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IN THE MATTER OF Subsection 24 (1) of the Building Code Act, 1992.

AND IN THE MATTER OF Article of Regulation 61, as amended by O. Reg. 400/91, 158/93, 160/93, 383/94, 20/95 and 395/96 (the "Ontario Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. David Beard, Parishioner, St. George's Anglican Church, Clarksburg, Ontario for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Douglas Bumstead, Deputy Chief Building Official, Town of Blue Mountain, Ontario to determine whether an exterior ramp constructed as a barrier free path of travel provides sufficiency of compliance with Article of the 1990 Ontario Building Code at St. George's Anglican Church, Marsh Street, Clarksburg, Ontario.


Mr. David Beard,
St. George's Anglican Church
102 Wards Road, RR # 3
Collingwood, Ontario


Mr. Douglas Bumstead
Deputy Chief Building Official
Town of Blue Mountain


Mr. Roy Philippe (Chair)
Mr. Kenneth Peaker
Mr. James Lischkoff


Toronto, Ontario


September 10, 1998


September 10, 1998


Mr. David Beard
The Applicant

Mr. Mina Tesseris
The Respondent


  1. The Applicant

Mr. David Beard of St. George's Anglican Church has received a correction notice to alter the recently constructed ramp to comply with the requirements of Article of the Ontario Building Code at St George's Anglican Church,Marsh Street, Clarksburg, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

In 1997, St. George's Anglican Church was expanded through the construction of a 22.6 m2 addition to the south west portion of the church to facilitate wheel chair access to the church and to provide an accessible washroom. The original specification was to construct a ramp in accordance with Ontario Building Code (OBC) Article However, the lower ramp was constructed at a slope greater than the maximum permitted in the OBC, estimated at 1 in 9.2.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether access to St. George's Anglican Church achieves sufficiency of compliance with the requirements of Article of the Ontario Building Code. This Article requires that the maximum slope for a ramp is 1 in 12, although the ramp was constructed with the lower portion having a slope of approximately 1 in 9.2.

  1. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Article Ramps

(1) Ramps located in a barrier-free path of travel shall

(a)have a minimum width of 870 mm (2 ft 10 in) between handrails,

(b)have a maximum gradient of 1 in 12, (see Appendix A)

(c)have a level area of at least 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) by 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) at the tops and bottom of a ramp and where a door is located in a ramp, so that the level area extends at least 600 mm (23 5/8 in) beyond the latch side of the door opening, except that where the door opens away from the ramp, the area extending beyond the latch side of the door opening may be reduced to 300 mm (11 3/4 in),(see Appendix A).

(d)have a level area at least 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) long and at least the same width as the ramp

(i)at intervals of not more than 9 m (29 ft 6 in) along its length, and

(ii)where there is an abrupt change in the direction of the ramp,

(e)except as provided in Sentence (2), be equipped with handrails and guards on both sides conforming to Articles and, and

(f)be provided with a curb at least 50 mm (2 in) high on any side of the ramp where no solid enclosure or guard is provided.

(2) Where a ramp serves as an aisle way for fixed seating, the requirements for handrails in Clause need not apply.

(3) Floors or walks in a barrier-free path of travel having a slope steeper than 1 in 20 shall be designed as ramps. (See Appendix A.).

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that this ramp has a double railing on both sides. It is heated by underground piping. Everyone connected with the Church is very pleased with the new ramp which permits an easy and safe entrance for the disabled. During the ramp construction, it was discovered by the contractor that the drawings submitted did not take into consideration the fact that the lower portion of the ramp had to meet the sidewalk to the existing main entrance to the Church sanctuary. With a slope of 1 in 12 as specified in the Code, this would require both sidewalks to be on different levels where they meet. It would make both entrances awkward and dangerous.The contractor was unable to reach Mr. Bumstead on short notice to obtain his approval. The contractor accordingly completed the construction so that both the ramp and the sidewalk entrance way to the Church met on the same level. This increased the gradient, but was necessary due to space restrictions. The accessible entrance and the main church entrance are used only for worship on Sundays and for weddings funerals as required.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that the ramp slope of 1 in 9.2 exceeds the allowable maximum slope of 1 in 12 for a barrier free path of travel. The building is an A2 occupancy used as a church and therefore is not subject to the exceptions stated in OBC The Chief Building Official does not have the authority to accept a ramp slope greater than prescribed in the OBC.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the exterior ramp constructed to provide barrier free access of travel provides sufficiency of compliance with

Article of the 1990 Ontario Building Code.

  1. Reasons

i)The ramp is provided with hand rails on both sides.

ii)Heating is provided on the ramp to keep it free of ice and snow accumulation.

iii)The ramp has been in use since November 1997 by the disabled with no difficulties noted by church members.

iv)The ramp is used normally during church services when greeters are available to provide assistance if necessary.

v)Site limitations have made it difficult to comply in total with the Building Code.

vi)It is the opinion of the Building Code Commission that the ramp does not provide an unsafe condition.

Dated at Toronto this 10th day in the month of September in the year 1998 for application number 1998-43.

Mr. Roy Philippe, Chair

Mr. Kenneth Peaker

Mr. James Lischkoff