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 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

You are invited to complete an online survey to provide feedback to help increase accessibility in new buildings.

The survey is available on the govTogetherBC website from October 28 to December 9, 2021.

More information about the public engagement and resources are available on the BC Building Code public review web page.

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
  • Had components or parts replaced
  • Or experienced a change to its use or occupancy

The 2018 BC Building Code accessibility requirements are based on the 2015 National Building Code with some improvements to achieve higher levels of access. Some important changes to support building accessibility 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
  • Changes to 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 designing and building residential homes with features that can later be modified at minimal cost to meet the changing needs of occupants. This kind of flexibility:

  • Helps people stay in their own homes through illness, injury or aging
  • Provides housing options for accessibility for people 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 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 making it easier for strollers, scooters and wheelchairs to enter the building

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: November 1, 2021.