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BCC Ruling No. 97-49-591

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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 Messrs. Theodore H. Miller and Paul Faynwachs, Owners, Paul Faynwachs and Ted Miller In Trust, 150 Metcalfe Street, Suite 1100, Ottawa, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Les Batson, Chief Building Official, City of Ottawa, Ontario, concerning whether the proposed exit stair provides sufficiency of compliance with Article of the Ontario Building Code at 287 MacLaren Street, Ottawa, Ontario.

Messrs. Theodore H. Miller and Paul Faynwachs, Owners
Paul Faynwachs and Ted Miller In Trust
150 Metcalfe Street, Suite 1100
Ottawa, Ontario

Mr. Les Batson
Chief Building Official
City of Ottawa

Mr. Roy Philippe (Chair)
Ms. Susan Friedrich
Mr. Cliff Youdale

Toronto and Ottawa, Ontario

Wednesday, October 29th, 1997

Mr. Theodore H. Miller
Paul Faynwachs and Ted Miller
In Trust
150 Metcalfe Street
The Applicant

Mr. Grant Morden
Grant L. Morden Architect
601-100 Gloucester Street
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Les Batson
Chief Building Official
City of Ottawa
The Respondent

Mr. Chris Freeman
Buildings Department
City of Ottawa
For the Respondent


  1. The Applicant

Mr. Theodore Miller, co-owner, Paul Faynwachs and Ted Miller In Trust, 150 Metcalfe Street, Suite 1100, Ottawa, Ontario was issued a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to convert an existing business occupancy to residential at 287 MacLaren Street, Ottawa, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant intends to convert an existing structure, which is more than five years old and is currently classified as Group D - business and personal services occupancy building, to a Group C - residential occupancy. This change would reduce the occupant load from 190 to 40 persons.

The building is six storeys in building height and has a building area of 1,910 m2 (20,560 ft2). The structure is constructed of noncombustible construction and is equipped with a standpipe and hose system and a fire alarm system. The ground floor contains an open air garage/parking area with space for eight vehicles, which is open to the exterior at the front and rear of the building. At the front of the front of the parking area is an electronically-controlled security gate, and at the rear is a 1,829 mm (6 ft) high poured concrete wall.

The Applicant proposes to renovate the reminder of the ground floor to provide a lobby for the new residential occupancy. As part of these plans, an exit facility is provided from the floors above leading directly into the parking area. From this door occupants would then travel roughly 15 m (50 ft) to a manual door equipped with panic hardware located within the motorized gate at the garage's entrance.

  1. Dispute The issue at dispute between the Applicant and the Respondent is whether the proposed exit provides sufficiency of compliance with any of the exit types permitted under Article of the OBC. This provision sets out the types of exit arrangements from any floor area permitted under the Code. Discharging an exit stair into a parking garage does not correspond with the permitted exit types listed in this Article.

  1. Provisions of the Building Code Types of Exit

(1) Subject to the requirements of this Section, an exit from any floor area shall be one of the following used singly or in combination

(a) an exterior doorway,
(b) an exterior passageway,
(c) an exterior ramp,
(d) an exterior stairway,
(e) an fire escape (as described in Subsection 3.4.7.),
(f) a horizontal exit,
(g) an interior passageway,
(h) an interior ramp, or
(i) an interior stairway.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the proposed exiting arrangement meets the intent of the Code. Their proposal was submitted under Part 11 of the Code. The Respondent however has been preventing them from using the more flexible standards found in Part 11. The Applicant, reduced occupant load will decrease the Hazard Index of the building and as a result they believe that the building should be reviewed under the more relaxed Part 11 standards.

The Applicants also indicated that they addressed the Respondent's concern about the means of egress to the front of the building by adding the manual door with the panic hardware in the security gate.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that the subject exit does not meet Article of the Code. In their view, the exit facility proposed does not qualify as an exit because it does not meet the requirements included in the definition of exit. They feel the change in major occupancy from Group D to C, as a Renovation Activity #2, requires an evaluation and upgrade of the deficiencies of the early warning and evacuation systems. As they noted, Table 11.3.1.B. requires an evaluation of the "number of exits in other Parts of the Code" and deficiencies upgraded.

As such, the Respondent indicated to the Applicant that they either rectify the deficiencies in accordance with Part 3 of the OBC. Or, using a compliance alternative under Part 11, in accordance with Subsections 11.2.3. and 11.2.4. to the satisfaction of the Chief Building Official, they are requiring that the exit be redesigned to discharge to the exterior.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the evacuation system for the exit through the open air parking area provides sufficiency of compliance with the Building Code provided that:

i) the portion of the path of travel that leads through the open air parking is not more than 9 m in length measured from the exit door to a point at ground level at the perimeter of the building,

ii) measures are taken to prevent vehicles intended to park in spaces adjacent to the path of exit travel from encroaching on the path of exit travel, and

iii) an alternate path of exit travel not leading through the open air parking is available from the interior side of the door opening onto the path of exit travel through the open air parking area.

  1. Reasons

i) The conditions are consistent with the proposed building code amendments.

ii) The travel distance to a main thorough fare through the parking area is limited to 9 m.

iii) The path of travel is protected from obstruction by vehicles.

iv) An alternate path of exit, not through the parking area, is provided.

Dated at Toronto this 29th day in the month of October in the year 1997 for application number 1997-57.

Roy Philippe, Chair

Susan Friedrich

Cliff Youdale