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BCC Ruling No. 97-42-584

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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 Ms. Gail Fischer-Taylor and Mr. Burns Wattie, Homeowners, 47 Poplar Plains Road, Toronto, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Ms. Pamela Coburn, Chief Building Official, City of Toronto, Ontario, concerning whether the wood guard for the proposed third floor deck provides sufficiency of compliance with Article of the Ontario Building Code at 47 Poplar Plains Road, Toronto, Ontario.


Ms. Gail Fischer-Taylor and Mr. Burns Wattie
47 Poplar Plains Road
Toronto, Ontario


Ms. Pamela Coburn
Chief Building Official
City of Toronto


Mr. Roy Philippe (Chair)
Mr. Rick Florio
Mr. Demir Delen


Toronto, Ontario


Wednesday, September 24th, 1997


Mr. Bob Barboutsis
Building Inspector
City of Toronto
For the Applicant

Mr. Tim Scott
Natale and Scott Architects
Agent for the Applicant


  1. The Applicants

Ms. Gail Fischer-Taylor and Mr. Burns Wattie are person who were issued a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to renovate the third floor of their existing residence at 47 Poplar Plains Road, Toronto, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction The Applicant's building is described as a semi-detached structure, with a Group C - Residential occupancy. It has a gross floor area of 332.7 m2 (2,581 ft2) and has a building height of three storeys.

The Applicants recently renovated their house. The work included demolishing a two-storey rear porch, substantial interior renovations of the second and third floors, upgrading windows and doors, adding a new basement entrance, and rebuilding an existing third floor deck.

The guard around the deck was replaced with a new one that was constructed with 3/4 in. x 1 in. horizontal wood slats, spaced at 1.5 in. on centre. The height of the guard is 1,524 mm (5 ft. 0 in.).

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and the Respondent is whether the new guard with horizontal wood slats that was built around the third floor deck provides sufficiency of compliance with Article of the OBC. This provision requires that guards built around balconies, porches and decks be designed so as not to facilitate climbing of the guard.

  1. Provisions of the Building Code Designs to Prevent Climbing.

Guards around exterior balconies, porches, and decks of buildings of residential occupancy shall be designed so that no member, attachment or opening located between 100 mm (4 in) and 900 mm (2 ft 11 in) above the floor of the balcony, porch or deck will facilitate climbing.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the guard, as designed and constructed, provides sufficiency of compliance with Article In their opinion, the spacing of the slats, with only a 3/4 in. gap between them means that it would not be possible for anyone to gain a foot or handhold.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that the guard does not provide sufficiency of compliance because, in their view, the spaces between the slats do facilitate climbing by a child. The City's concern is that the guard's design presents real danger for a serious accident to occur. As they have jurisdiction for enforcement of the building code, they believe that the guard, which they have inspected on several occasions, leaves them open to liability.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the wood guard for the 3rd floor deck does not provide sufficiency of compliance with Article of the Building Code.

  1. Reasons

i) The guard is required to be altered between 100mm to 900 mm and this can be achieved easily without altering the current design significantly to eliminate the possibility of climbing.

Dated at Toronto this 24th day in the month of September in the year 1997 for application number 1997-46.

Roy Philippe, Chair

Rick Florio

Demir Delen