Accessibility

Accessibility is an important part of the BC Building Code. Accessibility requirements in the Code help to make sure buildings are designed and constructed so everyone can:

  • Reasonably approach, enter and exit buildings
  • Move safely throughout buildings to use the facilities and services

Mandate

The Province is working to include changes in the next BC Building Code to make new buildings more accessible for all people.

Public engagement

The public, code users, industry and partners were invited to complete an online survey to provide feedback to help increase accessibility in new buildings.

The survey was available on the govTogether BC website from October 28, 2021 to January 13, 2022.

Engagement input received

  • A total of 1,562 surveys were completed from October 28, 2021 to January 13, 2022
  • A total of 12 email submissions
  • A total of two phone submissions

Feedback will help government develop changes to the BC Building Code to make new buildings more accessible.

The next step is to facilitate focus groups to deepen our understanding of the survey feedback received through the fall 2021 public engagement.

A summary report of what we heard will be published to the Building and Safety Standards website later in 2022.

Later in 2023, we will launch phase two of our engagement to seek feedback on proposed BC Building Code accessibility changes.

Collaboration

The Province is working to develop new and better accessibility requirements. Partners include provincial ministries and national partners. These requirements will inform a harmonized and more consistent approach to accessibility in future national and provincial building codes.

In June 2022, the Office of Housing and Construction Standards signed an agreement with Accessibility Standards Canada. The agreement will help support both parties to collaborate on efforts to improve accessibility building codes and standards.

To read a news release with more information, visit:

BC Building Code

The BC Building Code is a provincial regulation governing how new construction, building alterations, repairs and demolitions are done. A building must meet the requirements of the BC Building Code that is in force when it is constructed.

The BC Building Code does not apply to existing buildings, unless they:

  • Undergo alterations or renovations
  • Have components or parts replaced
  • Experience changes to use or occupancy

The 2018 BC Building Code accessibility requirements are based on the 2015 National Building Code with some improvements, specific to B.C., to achieve higher levels of access. Some important changes to support building accessibility that were implemented in 2018 include:

  • Increasing accessibility in small retail shops and in common areas of condominium and apartment buildings
  • Increasing the number of wheelchair spaces required in public viewing spaces
  • Equipping courtrooms with assistive listening systems
  • Requiring more visible alarms in addition to requirements for sleeping rooms and bed spaces
  • Changing the location of signs to reduce shadows and glare
  • Requiring accessible pathways between sidewalks, roads, loading zones and main building entrances
  • Discontinuing conflicting and competing requirements for accessible parking spaces as local authorities can regulate parking spaces more broadly
  • Adopting the format and approach of the National Building Code 2015 and most of its requirements, while retaining some requirements specific to B.C.

You can learn more about BC Building Code 2018 accessibility requirements by:

Building Accessibility Handbook

Learn about the BC Building Code's accessibility requirements in the Building Accessibility Handbook 2020 (PDF, 9.9MB). The 2020 handbook includes new illustrations and explanatory text to support users to apply the BC Building Code 2018 requirements to make buildings more accessible.

The Building Accessibility Handbook 2020 print publication is available for purchase from Queen's Printer on BC Codes.

Find illustrations and explanations related to accessibility requirements in the BC Building Code 2012 in the Building Access Handbook 2014 edition (PDF, 3.6MB).

Accessible parking spaces

Local governments and other local authorities can set requirements for accessible parking spaces through their bylaws.

Adaptable housing

Adaptable housing refers to residential homes that are designed and built with features that can be modified at minimal cost to meet the occupants' changing needs. This flexibility:

  • Helps people stay in their own homes through illness, injury or aging
  • Provides accessible housing options for people living with disabilities
  • Reduces the cost of future renovations to accommodate people whose abilities change

Design and construction includes:

  • Corridors, doorways, bathrooms and kitchens that are easier for people living with disabilities to use
  • Features like approachable and reachable electrical outlets and switches
  • Building in a way that allows for future installation of items such as grab bars in bathrooms
  • Main entrances with power door operators to make it easier for strollers, scooters and wheelchairs to enter buildings

Fact sheets, check lists and guides from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation show you ways to adapt your home to meet your changing needs.

Page last updated: June 28, 2022.