Page updated: June 20, 2023
Accessibility is an important part of the BC Building Code. Accessibility code requirements 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
On this page:
- BC Building Code
- Adaptable housing
- Building Accessibility Handbook
- Accessible parking
In 2020, the Province pledged to include changes in the next BC Building Code to make new buildings more accessible for all people.
A public review from May 19 to June 18, 2023 sought feedback on proposed changes to the BC Building Code accessibility rules. All feedback received will be reviewed and considered in drafting the updated building code.
A public engagement from October 2021 to January 2022 sought feedback on opportunities to increase accessibility in new buildings. For more information, please review the BC Building Code accessibility engagement reports on the resources web page.
Work continues to develop new and better accessibility requirements. Partners include provincial ministries and national partners. Collaboration will help to create a more consistent approach to accessibility in future building codes.
In June 2022, the Province 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:
The BC Building Code sets the rules for the design and construction of new buildings, building alterations, repairs and demolitions. 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 set the rules for building operation and management.
The BC Building Code does not apply to existing buildings, unless they:
- Undergo changes or renovations
- Have portions or parts replaced
- Experience changes to use or occupancy
The 2023 BC Building Code accessibility requirements are based on the 2020 National Building Code with some changes, specific to B.C., to achieve higher levels of access. Some proposed changes for adoption in the next code for large new buildings, like condos and apartments include:
- Power-operated doors for all building entrances
- Accessible paths of travel, turning spaces, doorways, ramps, seating and more elevators
- Inclusive washrooms with full-sized changing space and space for care givers, universal dressing and shower facilities and emergency lighting
- Improved signage and prompts to provide information through hearing or touch
- Updating adaptable dwelling code rules in large buildings for 100% of residential suites and first floor suites in small buildings to require:
- Accessible clearances through doorways and along paths of travel to living space
- Space in a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen
- Switches and other controls at an accessible height
- Reinforcement of bathroom walls to allow future installation of grab bars
- Hand-held microphones at all service counters to support communication
- Visible alarms in all common spaces in buildings
- Automatic fire sprinklers to support evacuation time
Adaptable housing provides accessible entrances, more clearance space to support mobility, accessible controls, switches, and features to suit occupants' needs thereby offering greater accessibility.
- Helps people stay in their own homes through illness, injury or aging
- Provides accessible housing options for people living with disabilities
- Minimizes future retrofitting costs
Adaptable housing features support occupants to update specific features based on personal needs and avoids a one-size-fits-all approach, which may create barriers.
Fact sheets, check lists and guides from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation show you ways to adapt your home to meet your changing needs.
Building Accessibility Handbook
Learn about the BC Building Code 2018 accessibility requirements in the Building Accessibility Handbook 2020 (PDF, 9.9MB). The 2020 handbook includes 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).
Read the BC Housing Design and Construction Guidelines for information to develop or renovate affordable housing.
Local governments and other local authorities can set requirements for accessible parking spaces through their bylaws.