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BCC Ruling No. 94-21-399

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

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Truscan Realty Ltd. for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Norman Douglas, Chief Building Official, City of Ottawa.


Truscan Realty Ltd.


Mr. Norman Douglas
Chief Building Official
City of Ottawa


Sarah Maman, Chair
Remus Tsang
Michael Wong


Toronto, Ontario


August 18, 1994


Mr. Leonard Koffman, Architect
for the applicant


  1. The Applicant

Truscan Realty Ltd. is an applicant for a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct a series of concrete ramps in a barrier-free path of travel along an existing exterior walkway providing access to various commercial tenants, "Towngate" Shopping Centre, 2446 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario.

  1. Description of Constrution

The applicant is proposing to replace approximately one third the width of five existing concrete stairways with ramps to provide a barrier-free path of travel along an existing open-air exterior walkway. The walkway provides access to several tenants of the "Towngate" Shopping Centre.

  1. Dispute

The dispute between the Applicant and Respondent concerns the technical interpretation of Clause of the Building Code. At issue is the requirement to provide guards and handrails on both sides of the ramps.

  1. Provision of the Building Code

Clause Ramps

Ramps located in a barrier-free path of travel shall:

(e) except as provided in Sentence (2), be equipped with handrails and guards on both sides conforming to Articles and

  1. Applicant's Position

The applicant requested that handrails not be required for the subject ramps. The ramps serve to overcome a grading problem resulting from land settlement adjacent to the exterior walkway. Barrier-free access was originally provided via curb cuts from the parking area, but due to soil settlement this is no longer possible. The proposed ramps replace the curb cuts. It was the feeling of the applicant that guards and handrails on both sides of the ramps would be an intrusion in the walkway that may be hazardous to the general public.

  1. Chief Building Officials Position

The respondent stated that Sentence of the Building Code requires "Floors or walks in a barrier-free path of travel having a slope steeper than 1 in 20" to be designed as ramps. Since the subject exterior walkway forms part of the barrier-free path of travel from the exterior parking area to the building entrances, the ramps must comply with Sentence This would then require the provision of handrails and guards in accordance with Clause of the Building Code.

  1. Commission Ruling:

In favour of the Respondent. It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the absence of guards and handrails on both sides of the ramps does not comply with the Ontario Building Code.

  1. Reasons:

Not providing the guards and handrails may:

  1. cause undue hardships to those that rely on their use to access the individual stores, and
  2. the difference in grade between the stairs and the ramps may be hazardous to the general public if no barrier is provided.

Dated at Toronto, this 18st day, in the month of August, in the year 1994, for application number 1994-32.

Sarah Maman

Remus Tsang

Michael Wong