BCAB #1501 - Accessibility Upgrade to Existing Building, Change of Occupancy, Clause & Sentence

March 15, 2000

BCAB #1501

Re: Accessibility Upgrade to Existing Building, Change of Occupancy, Clause & Sentence

Project Description

The existing building in question was changed from movie theatre (Group A Div. 1) to an arcade (Group A Div. 2) and then to a retail facility (Group E). The building is not accessible to people with disabilities.

Reason for Appeal

Clause states the code applies to "all parts of any building affected by a change in occupancy." Sentence requires that in a building " ... where the occupancy is changed, access shall be provided ... where persons with disabilities could reasonably be expected to be employed in, or could reasonably be expected to use, such an occupancy or building and where providing such access would be practical."

Appellant's Position

The appellant contends that the change of occupancy took place about 15 years ago and no accessibility upgrading was required at that time. There have been several tenants renting the building during the ensuing years. The first two were arcades classed as Group A Div. 2, the remainder were classed as mercantile and no problems were encountered obtaining business licenses. A recent application for a business license has brought about the request to perform several upgrades to the building, including the provision of access for persons with disabilities. Access to the rented portion of the building would require a 60 foot ramp that would pass in front of the door to the appellant’s portion of the building

Building Official's Position

The building official maintains that the occupancy has changed from Group A Division 1 to Group E. The retail area is nearly double the 50 square metre limit for exemption from access requirements ( Therefore, the building should now become accessible to persons with disabilities.

Appeal Board Decision #1501

It is the determination of the Board that a change of tenant does not constitute a "change of use" as intended by the code. The Board considers "use" to be related to the occupancy classification of the building. As the occupancy classification is not changing at this time the code should not be applied to the building as a whole but only to renovation work required to accommodate the new tenant.

George R. Humphrey, Chair