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BCC Ruling No. 97-03-545

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Subsection 3.1.2. and 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 Mr. Heinz Vogt, Partner, Stone Kohn McQuire Vogt, Toronto, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Bruce Ashton, Director of Buildings, City of York, concerning whether the conversion of 11 units in an existing multi-unit apartment building is to be classified under a residential or institutional major occupancy under Subsection 3.1.2. and Sentence of the Ontario Building Code at the Bello Horizonte, 1500 Keele Street, City of York, Ontario.


Mr. Heinz Vogt Partner Stone Kohn McQuire Vogt Toronto, Ontario


Mr. Bruce Ashton Director of Buildings City of York


Mr. Roy Philippe, Chair Ms. Susan Friedrich Mr. Michael Lio


Toronto, Ontario


February 26th, 1997


Mr. Heinz Vogt, Partner
Stone Kohn McQuire Vogt
Toronto, Ontario
The Applicant

Mr. Bruce Ashton
Chief Building Official
City of York
The Respondent

Mr. Allister Graham
Director Buildings
Inspection Services
City of York
For the Respondent


  1. The Applicant

Mr. Heinz Vogt, Partner, Stone Kohn McQuire Vogt Architects is a person who holds a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to renovate 11 units of an existing apartment building, at Bello Horizonte, 1500 Keele Street, City of York, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The subject building is a 124 unit apartment building. The proposed construction is to convert 11 existing apartment units into barrier free suites beyond normal barrier free design principles.

  1. Dispute

The dispute between the Applicant and the Respondent concerns whether the conversion of the 11 units is to be classified under a residential or institutional major occupancy.

  1. Provision of the Building Code Classification of Buildings (excerpts)

  1. Except as provided in Articles to, every building or part thereof shall be classified according to its major occupancy as belonging to one of the Groups or Divisions described in Table 3.1.2.A.

  1. A building intended for use by more than one major occupancy, shall be classified according to all major occupancies for which it is used or intended to be used.

Table 3.1.2.A.



Description of Major Occupancies



Institutional Occupancies in which persons are under restraint or are incapable of self preservation because of security measures not under their control



Institutional ocupancies in which persons require supervisory care, medical care or treatment



Residential Occupancies

Sentence Exceptions for Major Occupancies

  1. In a building where the aggregate area of all major occupancies in a particular Group or Division is not more than 10 percent of the floor area of the storey on which they are located, these major occupancies need not be considered as major occupancies for the purposes of Subsection 3.2.2. provided they are not classified as Group F, Division 1 or 2 occupancies.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that based on the level of care provided the occupancy is residential. The Applicant submitted: a copy of the Service Agreement between the Participation Apartments and the tenants of the units in dispute; a letter to the City of York outlining how the life safety concerns of the tenants are being addressed through the availability of full time non-medical staff; that 45 minute rated doors would be provided for each unit; that an early warning alarm system to a central location for each of the 11 units would be installed; and, a fire plan which incorporates procedures agreed upon between the fire department, Participation Apartments, and Bello Horizonte would also be instituted. The Applicant further submitted that in accordance with Sentence the conversion of the 11 units represents less than 10% of the total floor area and that no significant change in building classification is justified.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that the level of disability of these persons plays an important role in determining the major occupancy of the building and that the proposed type of use is not appropriate in a building having a Residential Occupancy Group C classification. The Respondent submitted that under normal circumstances, disabled persons would reside in a residential building if the building met the requirements for Barrier-Free design under Section 3.7. of the Building Code. However based on and analysis of CAN/CSA B651-95, the Respondent submitted that the level of disabilities of the intended occupants exceed the scope of normal Barrier free design principles and therefore does not belong in a Group C major occupancy. The Respondent indicated that the intended occupants will require full supervisory care which is more according to Institutional rather than Residential occupancies. The Respondent also indicated that Article specifies that convalescent homes and children's custodial homes can be classified as a Group C occupancy where the occupants are ambulatory. Since the proposed tenants are not ambulatory, the proposed use should belong to other than a Group C major occupancy.

The Respondent confirmed that the aggregate area of the second major occupancy does not exceed 10% of the floor area of the storey in which it is located, but that this provision does not exempt the second major occupancies from dealing with the requirements of Sections 3.1., 3.2. and 3.3.

  1. Commission Ruling:

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the conversion of 11 units facilities for physically disabled in an existing multi-unit apartment building is to be classified as a residential use under Section 3.12 of the building code provided that the following additional safety measures are included in the buildings,

i. The doors to the converted suites are to have a 3/4 hour fire resistance rating.

ii. Smoke alarms provided in these suites shall be connected to a listed monitoring panel located in the staff office.

iii. Doors to the affected suites shall be gasketted to minimize infiltration of smoke in the event of fire.

iv. The fire safety plan is to be modified to address the additional fire safety needs of specific residents and staff is to be assigned support responsibilities.

v. No additional units will be introduced for this use within the building.

  1. Reasons:

i. Physically disabled residents live independently within these units and direct their own care through the purchase of service.

ii. Non-medical support care is provided on a 24 hour basis through a signed service agreement.

iii. Additional life safety measures are included such as compartmentalization, early warning and control of smoke movement.

iv. The residents are cognisant of their surroundings and have the ability to direct their own care.

Dated at Toronto, this 26th day, in the month of February, in the year 1997, for application number 1997-08.

Roy Philippe

Susan Friedrich

Michael Lio