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BCC Ruling No. 95-22-442

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #95-22-442

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Clause 2.1.2.1.(1)(a) and Sections 4.1 and 4.3 of the Revised Regulation of Ontario 1990, Regulation 61, as amended by O.Regs. 400/91, 158/93,160/93 and 355/94 (the "Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. Thomas Feeley, Gwillimbury Homes for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Bernie Roth, Chief Building Official, City of Scarborough, concerning whether a retaining wall comprised of an engineered system of concrete blocks, known as Risi Stones, anchored by means of woven polymeric geotextile material into cement stabilized soil shows sufficiency of compliance with the Building Code at 4 Mason Road, Scarborough, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Gwillimbury Homes
Scarborough, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. Bernie Roth
Chief Building Official
City of Scarborough

PANEL

Mr. Michael Lio, Panel Chair
Mr. Rick Florio
Mr. Sang Shim

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF RULING

May 4th, 1995

APPEARANCES

Mr. George Tott, Consulting Engineer
Geotasco Inc.
Willowdale, Ontario
For the Applicant

Mr. Prakash Parikh
Senior Structural Engineer
City of Scarborough
For the Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Thomas Feeley, Gwillimbury Homes is an applicant for a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct a retaining wall along the rear portion of the access to the garage of unit #1 and along the south side of the same driveway against a pedestrian walkway for a townhouse project at 4 Mason Road, Scarborough, Ontario.

  1. Description of Constrution

The applicant proposed to replace an existing timber retaining wall with an engineered system of concrete blocks known as Risi Stones which are anchored by means of woven polymeric geotextile material into cement stabilized soil.

The height of the retaining wall varies from 1.6 m (5.25 ft.) to 2.3 m (7 ft. 9 in.).

  1. Dispute

The dispute between the Applicant and Respondent concerns the sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of Clause 2.1.2.1.(1)(a) and Sections 4.1 and 4.3 of the Building Code. At issue is the use of a woven polymeric geotextile material (i.e. Risigrid) as a structural tieback component of the retaining wall.

  1. Provision of the Building Code

Clause 2.1.2.1.(1)(a) Designated Structures

  1. Part 4 applies to the following designated structures:

    1. a retaining wall exceeding 1 m (3 ft. 3 in.) in exposed height adjacent to

i. public property,

ii. access to a building, or

iii. private property to which the public is admitted,

Other Provisions of the Building Code: Section 4.1, Structural Loads and Procedures and Section 4.3, Design Requirements for Structural Materials.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted calculations and supporting documentation to verify the acceptability of the engineered retaining wall.

The Applicant submitted that a building material not specifically covered by the Building Code is not a "prohibitive material". The use of a woven polymeric geotextile material (i.e. Risigrid) as a structural component of the retaining wall meets good engineering practice.

Furthermore, the Applicant submitted that geotextiles have been used for the past decade in similar applications.

  1. Chief Building Officials Position

The Respondent submitted that the retaining wall was a "Designated Structure" subject to Part 4 of the Building Code. A critical component of the design is the use of a polyvinylchloride coated fabric (i.e. Risigrid) as a structural tieback material. The Respondent stated that it's use was not specifically authorized under the Building Code or by any of the reference standards.

The Respondent submitted that Section 4.1 of the Building Code requires structural members to be designed having regard to expected service life. Furthermore, Section 4.3 of the Building Code provides design requirements for structural materials. The Respondent submitted that the applicant should provide a CCMC evaluation or BMEC authorization indicating an equivalent level of performance to Sections 4.1 and 4.3 of the Building Code.

  1. Commission Ruling:

In favour of the Applicant. It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposed retaining walls show sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of the Building Code provided the applicant submits a final sealed and signed report by a Professional Engineer licensed under the Professional Engineers Act (Ontario) to the municipality detailing all calculations, field inspection reports and a list of projects utilizing the retaining wall system in Ontario.

  1. Reasons:

  1. The reinforced earth retaining wall system is not a new concept and has been utilized across Ontario in various forms and is recognized by the Canadian Geotechnical Society as detailed in the Canadian Foundation Engineering Manual.

  1. A licensed Professional Engineer provided engineering services (i.e. calculations & inspections) in accordance with the Professional Engineers Act (Ontario).

  1. An independent licensed consulting engineer's testimony confirmed the suitability of the retaining wall system.

Dated at Toronto, this 4th day, in the month of May, in the year 1995, for application number 1995-18.

Michael Lio

Sang Shim

Rick Florio