The Provincial Government has announced that it will amend the Buildings Accessibility Regulations and the Designated Mobility Impaired Parking Regulations “to improve accessibility and equity for all persons in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

They say the amendments represent a first step in government’s two-phased approach to addressing issues around the accessibility of buildings in our province. The second phase will be a review of the Buildings Accessibility Act.

The amendments to the regulations include:

  • Requirement for new and renovated buildings to have power door operators.
  • Fines increased to $400-$700 for illegally parking in a blue zone.
  • Requirement for van-sized accessible parking spaces.
  • Increased percentage of parking spaces required to be accessible.
  • Increased number of accessible units in an apartment complex with more than four units.
  • Requirements for improved accessibility in public washrooms.
  • Clarification of counter height requirements to ensure counters in public buildings are accessible.

These amendments will bring Newfoundland and Labrador into compliance with the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) B651 code for barrier-free design. From here on out, changes in national codes will be adopted automatically six months after they have been modified.

The changes to the regulations resulted from recommendations brought forward by the Buildings Accessibility Advisory Board; Provincial Advisory Council for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities; disability community organizations; Engineering and Inspection Services Division of Service NL; and individual advocates.

“In order to address accessibility,”says Grant V. Genova of Fresh Fruit & Architecture, “we have to think beyond property boundaries, to minimizing slopes and eliminating steps, to incorporating existing accessibility infrastructure into a universal neighbourhood approach, and ensuring investment in good design.”

This, he says, means a collaborative approach involving architects, interior designers, and landscape architects who are professionally trained to think creatively about movement in the built environment.

In addition to changing the fine for parking in a blue zone from $100-400 to $400-700, here is a complete list of the revisions:

Section 3
Automatic adoption of NBCC and CSA B651 Standards.
• Current: Regulations are not clear about the automatic adoption of the NBCC and the CSA B651 Standards.
• Change: Amendments to national codes and standards will automatically apply to Newfoundland and Labrador’s Buildings Accessibility Regulations.
•  This would clarify for builders the importance of being mindful of national building codes and standards at all times.
Section 32 (1) (e)
The positioning of grab bars in showers
•    Current: The Regulation for the appropriate installation of shower stall grab bars are not compliant with CSA B651 Standards.
•    Change:  Horizontal grab bars are to be located on the wall opposite the entrance to the shower and the vertical grab bar is to be located on the same wall as the controls for the shower starting at 80 to 120 mm from the entrance
•    This would mean improved safety and accessibility in showers.
Section 6
Clearance of turnstiles
•    Current: Turnstiles are only required to have 750 mm access width which provides only minimal clearance for individuals who use mobility equipment. This is not consistent with the CSA B651 Standards.
•    Change: Require clearance through a turnstile to be at least 810 mm.
•    This would mean greater freedom of movement for travelling through turnstiles.
Section 27 (a)
Accessibility in public washrooms
•    Current:  Individuals with mobility equipment can face barriers when trying to use toilet stalls based on current dimensions (i.e. washroom stalls may be too small). This is not consistent with the CSA B651 Standards.
•    Change:  Accessible stalls will be larger in size (not less than 1600 mm wide by 1500 mm deep).
•    This would mean that accessible stalls will be wider to provide additional space between the toilet and wall.
Section 27 (f)
Clearance within accessible washrooms
•    Current:  There is not enough clearance area space in washrooms between stall doors and wall mounted fixtures (e.g. sink) to allow for safe movement. This is not consistent with the CSA B651 Standards.
•    Change:  Minimum clearance requirement so that clear floor areas be at least 1500 mm by 1500 mm in front of an accessible stall.
•    This would mean more adequate turning radius.
Section 22 (4)
The  height of handrails
•   Current: Minimum requirement of 800 mm for the height in the placement of handrails and is not consistent with the CSA B651 Standards of 860 mm.
•    Change: Would require handrails on stairs and ramps be not less than 860 mm and not more than 920 mm high.
•   This would mean compliance with the CSA B651 Standards
Section 19 (1)(b) Gradient of ramps to make them less steep •    Current:  A gradient level of 1:12 for ramps is considered a minimum standard, whereas a gradient of 1:15 or better is preferred because it can make it easier to use with the more gradual slope as recommended by CSA B651 Standards.
•    Change: A 1:16 gradient level.
•    This would mean improved accessibility and increased safety because ramps have a gentler slope.
Section 18
Power door operators on public washroom and vestibule doors.
•    Current: Power door operators are not required on inner vestibule doors. This is not consistent with the NBCC. Power door operators are also not required on public washroom doors.
•    Change: Vestibule interior and public washroom doors will be equipped with power door operators.
•    This would mean improved accessibility to buildings and public washrooms.
Section 18(5)
Power doors operators in buildings under 500 square meters
•    Current: Power door operators are not required for buildings (stores; apartment buildings; restaurants; personal services) under 500 square meters.
•    Change: Requirement to have at least one power door operator at the main entrance(s) to all these types of buildings, regardless of size.
•    This would result in improved accessibility for all types of buildings regardless of size.
Section 18 (11) Clearance between swinging doors in a series •    Current: Swinging doors in a series other than a vestibule area are not required to have a 1200 mm clearance. This means that an individual can enter a building but potentially not be able to navigate it. This is not consistent with the CSA B651 Standards
•    Change: A distance of not less than 1200 mm between any two swinging doors in a series, plus the width of any door swinging into the space.
•    This would clarify intent of regulations and result in improved accessibility in buildings.
Section 4(2) and 4 (3)
More accessible apartment required to be constructed
•    Current: Only 1 in15 units of an apartment building are required to be accessible. In addition, there is some ambiguity in the regulations as to the accessibility requirements for apartment buildings where there are more than 4 but less than 10 units.
•    Change: 1 in 10 units will be fully accessible and clarify requirements for bathrooms and interior paths of travel for all accessible apartment units.
•    This would mean an increase in the number of fully accessible apartment units being constructed.
Section 11(f) (i)
Small raised floor areas are no longer permitted
•    Current: The Regulations permit small areas used for security or security observation (not more than 12 square meters) to be higher than the main floor. This area is not required to be accessible.
•    Change: No longer exempt these raised floor areas in buildings.
•    This would mean these areas of a building would be accessible for customers and staff.
Section 15(4)Requirement to paint space entirely blue removed •    Current: Accessible blue parking spaces are a slip-and-fall hazard due to the paint.
•    Change:  Eliminate the practice of painting spaces entirely blue and require the universal symbol of access to be used along with permanent vertical signs in conjunction with space/size requirements.
•    This would reduce potential slip and fall hazards while at the same time ensuring accessible parking spaces remain high profile.
Section 8
Percentage of accessible parking spaces  and van sized spaces
•    Current: Only 4% of parking spaces are required to be accessible and there is no specification for spaces to accommodate van-sized vehicles.
•    Change: Increase the number of accessible parking spaces to 6% and a new requirement for 1 van-size accessible parking to 6 accessible spaces for cars.
•    This would mean more accessible parking spaces and accommodations for vans which require more space (i.e. those equipped with lifts and ramps).
•    The number of accessible parking spaces hasn’t kept pace with the demand.  As of the end of May 2016, there were 25,812 active accessible parking permits in use, which represents approximately 7% of the number of passenger vehicles registered with the Motor Vehicle Division.
Section 33
Accessible Service Counters
•    Current: The Regulations concerning the requirement for a barrier-free counter to serve the public is open to interpretation as only applying to one section of the counter.
•    Clarification: All types of counters serving the public to have barrier-free sections.
•    This would mean that all counters used to serve the public for whatever purpose would be accessible.
Section 8
Correction of outdated wording
•    Current: Outdated use of wording such as “physically disabled persons”. •    Change:  Update wording to “persons with disabilities”.
•    The current wording is outdated and is no longer used. The proposed amendment puts the person first and is consistent with the Inclusion Strategy and Words With Dignity.
Section 3
Fixed an error in the language
•    Current: Grammatical error in Subsection 3(1) “sidewall” when it should state “sidewalk”.
•    Change: The word to “sidewalk”.