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BCC Ruling No. 98-01-606

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Article of "the Building Code" (Ontario Regulation 419/89 as amended by Ont. Reg. 183/88, 581/88, 11/89 and 115/89).

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. Nasry Habash, Principal, Habash Architect, 156 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Agris Robezneiks, Chief Building Official, City of Mississauga, Ontario, concer ning whether the gymnasium and classrooms can be considered as the same basement level as defined in Article of the Ontario Building Code as it pertains to the requirement for floor-to-floor fire separations at The Church of the Virgin Mary & St. Athanasius, 1245 Eglinton Avenue W., Mississauga, Ontario.


Mr. Nasry Habash, Principal
Habash Architect
Don Mills, Ontario


Mr. Agris Robezneiks
Chief Building Official
City of Mississauga


Mr. Roy Philippe (Chair)
Mr. Michael Lio
Mr. Ross Thomson


Toronto, Ontario


Thursday, January 15th, 1998


Randal Brown, President
Randal Brown and Assoc.
North York, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Frank Spagnolo, Manager
Building Engineering and Inspections
City of Mississauga
For the Respondent


  1. The Applicant

Mr. Nasry Habash, Principal, Habash Architect, was issued a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to renovate the existing church building known as the Church of the Virgin Mary and St. Athanasius, Mississauga, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant proposes to renovate an existing church by adding a new worship area, as well as a gymnasium, cafeteria and numerous classrooms. The new worship area is proposed to be on the ground floor area of the addition, as is the cafeteria. The gymn asium and classrooms are proposed for the level below grade. The Applicant is proposing that on this lower level the floor of the gymnasium be approximately 3.6 metres lower than the classroom floor level. (The ceilings of the gymnasium and classroom areas are at the same elevation.) The proposed occupant load for the below grade levels is 600.

The proposed structure is one storey in building height and has a building area of 5,167 m2. The building will be constructed of noncombustible construction. It will be equipped with a sprinkler system, a fire alarm system and a standpipe and hose system . The subject building is classified as a Group A - Division 2, assembly occupancy.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the two levels of the basement constitute different storeys within the building and consequently whether the floor-to-floor fire separations found in the Building Code are required. The definitions of storey and basement are found in Article of the Building Code.

  1. Provisions of the Building Code



Basement means a storey or storeys of a building located below the first storey.


Storey means that portion of a building which is situated between the top of any floor and the top of the floor next above it, and if there is no floor above it, that portion between the top of such floor and the ceiling above it.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the two levels of the basement should be considered as a single storey for the purposes of construction of the subject building. Their position is that the situation at hand is comparable to that of a stage which is raised ap proximately 2 metres above the adjacent floor level which, under the Building Code, is deemed to be within the same storey as the seating area because the ceilings are at the same level. As a result, the Applicant believes that the Building Code requirements regarding floor area, such as exits and fire separations are not applicable.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that since there will be a 3.6 metre difference between the classroom and gymnasium areas, in their view the proposed addition will contain a two level basement. For this reason, they feel that the building Code standards regardi ng exits, fire separations etc. should apply between the two below grade levels. The Respondent also points to the possibility of a high occupant load at these lower levels as an additional reason why the requirements for floor areas of the Building Code are necessary.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the gymnasium and classrooms demonstrate sufficiency of compliance with the Building Code provided that the stair located at grid line 14-H is enclosed at all levels as an exit stair, leading to grad e with the enclosure at the classroom level considered a lobby.

  1. Reasons

i) The building is sprinklered.

ii) A 1 h fire separation is provided between the gymnasium and the classrooms.

iii) The spaces adjacent to the gymnasium between grid lines 13 - 14 and 5 - 6 are considered ancillary spaces for functional purposes.

iv) Three enclosed exit stairs will be provided to accommodate the occupant load of the gymnasium.

Dated at Toronto this 15th day in the month of January 1998 for application number 1997-73.

Roy Philippe, Chair

Michael Lio

Ross Thomson