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BCC Ruling No. 97-24-566

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentence 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 Rev. Stephen Elliot, Pastor, Kanata Wesleyan Church, 285 First Line Road, Kanata, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Kaz Mosielski, Chief Building Official, City of Kanata, concerning whether the proposed stairs to chancel platform should be considered as access stairs and thus be required to have the specified handrails according to Sentence of the Ontario Building Code (OBC) at Kanata Wesleyan Church, 285 First Line Road, Kanata, Ontario.


Rev. Stephen Elliot, Pastor
Kanata Wesleyan Church
285 First Line Road
Kanata, Ontario

Mr. Kaz Mosielski
Chief Building Official
City of Kanata

Mr. Michael Lio, Chair
Mr. Douglas Clancey
Mr. Cliff Youdale

Ottawa, Ontario

Thursday, July 3rd, 1997

Rev. Stephen Elliot
Kanata Wesleyan Church
For the Applicant

Mr. Kaz Mosielski
Chief Building Official
City of Kanata
For the Respondent

Mr. Harry Toor
Building Official
City of Kanata
For the Respondent


  1. The Applicant

Rev. Stephen Elliot, Pastor, Kanata Wesleyan Church, is a person who has received a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to renovate an existing worship building known as Kanata Wesleyan Church, City of Kanata, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Kanata Wesleyan Church is a two storey building made of combustible construction. The building does not have a sprinkler system, nor a standpipe and hose system. It is equipped with a fire alarm system. The building's area is 644.5 m2 (6 937 ft2). It is classified as having a Group A, Division 2 as its major occupancy.

  1. Dispute

The issue under dispute between the Applicant and the Respondent is whether the stairs to the chancel platform should be considered an access to an exit and therefore would require the installation of handrails in accordance with Sentence of the 1990 Ontario Building Code.

  1. Provisions of the Building Code Handrails

(1) Every ramp or stairway shall have a handrail on at least one side, and where 1 100 mm (3 ft 7 in) or more in width, shall have handrails on both sides.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the renovated stairs serving the chancel platform should be considered as "access to exit" and not "exit" stairs. In their opinion, Sentence only applies if the subject stairs are defined as exit stairs. As they point out, if there were an exit located in the chancel area, then they could be considered as exit stairs. However, there is no such exit. The Applicant also argues that traditionally handrails serving chancel or podium areas have not been required in churches and other worship buildings.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that the proposed chancel stair renovation is subject to Sentence It is their view that the stairs at issue are exit stairs serving the chancel platform. Even if they were considered as "access to exit" stairs, they argue that handrails would still be necessary. Further, as per Sentence, because the stairs are wider than 1 100 mm, two handrails are required.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the stairs demonstrate sufficiency of compliance provided a handrail is installed on one side of each staircase.

  1. Reasons:

1. The stairs are used primarily during church services by a limited number of people, typically the pastor and musicians.

2. The stairs are well lit by overhead lights and natural light from windows.

3. The stairs contain a limited number of risers.

4. Evidence was presented that stairs serving chancel platforms have historically been built without handrails.

Dated at Ottawa this 3rd day in the month of July in the year 1997 for application number 1997-26.

Michael Lio, Chair

Douglas Clancey

Cliff Youdale