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BCC Ruling No. 98-13-618

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentences,,, and 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. Cos Orsini, Director, Orsini Bros. Inc., 7389 Lundy's Lane, Niagara Falls, Ontario for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Mel Brown, Chief Building Official, City of Niagara Falls, Ontario to determine whether the addition of a presidential suite can be defined as a mezzanine under Sentence to allow a single exit in accordance with Article at Niagara Falls Ramada Suites Hotel & Conference Centre, 7389 Lundy's Lane, Niagara Falls, Ontario.


Mr. Cos Orsini, Director
Orsini Bros. Inc.
Niagara Falls, Ontario


Mr. Mel Brown
Chief Building Official
City of Niagara Falls


Mr. Roy Philippe (Chair)
Mr. Rick Florio
Mr. Ross Thomson


Toronto, Ontario


March 12, 1998


March 12, 1998


Mr. Peter Lesdow, Principal
Peter J. Lesdow Architect
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Roger Pigeon
Senior Plans Examiner
City of Niagara Falls
For the Respondent


  1. The Applicant

Mr. Cos Orsini, Director, Orsini Bros. Inc., has applied for a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to renovate an existing hotel structure by adding a seventh floor presidential suite at the Niagara Falls Ramada Suites Hotel & Conference Centre, Niagara Falls, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant proposes to construct an addition to an existing six storey hotel. The addition will add a seventh level comprising 1,268 ft2 at the south-east corner of the top of the existing structure. This additional level is intended to be used as a presidential suite catering to high-end clientele. The proposed presidential suite would be accessed by a new flight of stairs to be built off the existing elevator lobby of the sixth floor. The elevators would not be extended to the presidential suite.

The proposed seventh level would be constructed of noncombustible construction, with the floor and load bearing walls of the proposed presidential suite having a 2 hour fire-resistance rating. The roof of the presidential suite is to have a fire-resistance rating of 1 hour, using the ULC #1501 design.

The existing structure has a building area of 68,256 ft2 and is constructed of noncombustible construction, with floor and load-bearing wall assemblies and exit stairwells having a fire-resistance rating of 2 hours. The doors and frames have a 1.5 hour rating. It is equipped with a standpipe and hose system and a fire alarm system. It is not provided with a sprinkler system. The building is classified as a Group C - residential (hotel) occupancy.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the proposed addition can be considered a mezzanine under Sentence of the Ontario Building Code and thus be subject to the exiting requirements for a mezzanine, specifically OBC Sentence By adding a seventh level, which if defined not as a mezzanine but as a storey having a floor area, the proposed presidential suite would then be required to provide a minimum of two exits. This could only be accomplished by creating an 80 ft long exit path over the top of the existing hotel roof to the north stair, which would have to be raised one storey to the seventh level. Considered as a mezzanine, however, only one exit would be required from the presidential suite.

  1. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Sentence to Building Height in Storeys

(4) Except as provided in Sentence (5), a mezzanine shall not be required to be considered as a storey in calculating building height and need not conform to Sentence (3) where the aggregate area of the mezzanine floor does not exceed 10 percent of the area of

(a)the suite in which it is located, where there is more than one suite in the storey, or

(b)the storey in which it is located, in all other cases.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the proposed presidential suite addition should be considered as a mezzanine to the sixth floor. In their opinion, providing a second exit across the top of the existing sixth floor roof would not be practical. Individuals exiting the presidential suite would have to travel over 80 ft across a sixth storey high roof. This situation itself would be dangerous and would require the hotel to construct either a 3 ft, 6 in guard around the perimeter of the existing roof, a length of 244 ft. Or, in order to avoid the problems of keeping such a path clear in the winter, an 80 ft long enclosed walkway would be necessary.

The Applicant argued that the seventh level addition could be viewed as a mezzanine since the presidential suite at 1267.59 ft2 comprises only 14.82 % of the 8,548.27 ft2 of the sixth floor area below. As they noted, this is only 4.82 % in excess of the 10 % allowed for a floor area to be considered a mezzanine.

Regarding the exiting from the presidential suite, the Applicant asserted that the proposed addition would meet the exiting requirements for a mezzanine under Article Further, as a Group C occupancy with only one exit, the proposed floor area at 1,267.59 ft2 and the proposed travel distance at 52 ft comply with the standards specified in Table 3.4.2.A which allow a maximum floor area of 1,350 ft2 and a maximum travel distance of 82 ft respectively.

The Applicants also argued that the presidential suite is safe because the stair leading to the access to exit is in clear view for the occupants of the room and is marked with an exit sign. The suite will not be used as an assembly area, therefore the occupant load will be low. As well, this usage, or lack thereof, was made clear by the city when it dealt with the associated minor variance application to increase parking at the hotel due to the new casino operation earlier this year.

The Applicants pointed out that although they are requesting that the presidential suite be considered a mezzanine, they are not seeking relaxations from other Code standards regardingseven storey buildings as regulated under Article They recognize that, as a result of the presidential suite addition, the hotel can no longer be classified under Article The Applicants note, however, that the subject building does in fact conform to the higher standards under Article This is true of the existing building and will also hold for the proposed addition. Nonetheless, the Applicants indicated that because the grade to floor level height of the presidential suite (considering it as a mezzanine) is approximately 55 ft, 5 in which is less than the 59 ft, 1 in criteria for high-rise buildings therefore the additional requirements of Subsection 3.2.6. do not apply. The same also applies for Sentence and Articles and

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that the proposed presidential suite addition cannot be considered as a mezzanine because it does not conform to the definition of mezzanine. The proposed suite is not an intermediate level between the floor and ceiling of the sixth floor. They indicated that the new floor area protrudes through the existing roof.

The Respondent argued that the Applicant was requesting too many exemptions. For example, the proposed exiting clearly does not meet the Code requirements for a floor area hence the Applicant's mezzanine proposal. However, the presidential suite does not meet the definition nor size allowed to be a mezzanine, thus the Applicant has requested further exemptions from the mezzanine provisions. Finally, they note that the Applicant is also seeking a relaxation of the standards for fire separating exits from the adjacent floor area.

For these reasons, the Respondent felt that the proposal sought variances that went beyond their authority.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the addition of a presidential suite does not provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentences and Article of the Building Code.

  1. Reasons

i)The presidential suite is considered a storey and not a mezzanine as per Article and Clause of the Building Code.

ii)As a partial seventh floor it is required to have not less than two exits as per Sentence of the Building Code.

iii)It is the opinion of the BCC that the proposed alternative life safety features wereconsidered insufficient to provide sufficiency of compliance.

Dated at Toronto this 12th day in the month of March in the year 1998 for application number 1998-04.

Mr. Roy Philippe, Chair

Mr. Rick Florio

Mr. Ross Thomson