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The Need for More New Accessible Housing

Currently, no AODA standards require houses and apartments to be accessible. However, the Third Review of the AODA recommends the creation of standards mandating accessibility in housing. In this article, we will outline the need for more new accessible housing. AODA standards in housing should mandate accessibility in new houses and apartments.

The Need for More New Accessible Housing

Most housing developers do not think about the needs of people with disabilities when they build living spaces. Instead, they assume that everyone living in the spaces they design can use features like stairs and narrow doorways. As a result, most houses and apartments are full of accessibility barriers.

For example, people sometimes live in houses where bathrooms are too small for their wheelchairs. As a result, they cannot use the bathrooms in their own homes independently. Furthermore, many people must live in these conditions for ten years or more, because of the accessible housing shortage. Although new houses and apartments are built every year, few of them are accessible. In addition, when houses are built accessibly, they are not always affordable. Therefore, AODA standards in housing should include rules and incentives to increase the accessibility of newly-built houses and apartments.

Current Rules for Accessibility in New Housing

The Ontario Building Code (the Code) has regulations mandating accessibility in apartment buildings. For instance, new apartment buildings must have:

  • Ramped or level entrances
  • Barrier-free paths of travel through buildings, including:
    • Wide hallways
    • Automatic doors and wide doorways
    • Pools and spas
  • Accessible public washrooms
  • Visual fire alarms

In addition, the Code requires barrier-free access between floors in apartment buildings that are at least:

  • Three (3) storeys high
  • Six hundred (600) square meters

Furthermore, at least fifteen percent (15%) of apartments in a building must have accessible features. For instance, these accessible apartments must have barrier-free paths of travel to the:

  • Kitchen
  • Living room
  • Full bathroom
  • Bedrooms

However, the Code does not require accessibility within these rooms. While a person may be able to visit a home with this level of accessibility, they may not be able to live there.

Similarly, the barrier-free requirements of the Code do not apply to other types of dwellings, such as:

  • Houses
  • Semi-detached houses
  • Duplexes
  • Triplexes
  • Townhouses
  • Row houses
  • Boarding or rooming houses with fewer than eight (8) boarders or roomers

In short, the Ontario Building Code does not provide guidelines for full accessibility in homes. However, the Code, and other building standards in Ontario cities, include guidelines which could improve the accessibility of new housing. In our next article, we will explore how these guidelines could apply to living spaces.