BCAB #1676 - Access to Medical Office, Clause

September 23, 2010

BCAB #1676

Re: Access to Medical Office, Clause

Project Description
The project in question is a tenant improvement on the second storey of a new two storey Group D office building constructed to the requirements of Article The 223 m2 tenant improvement is for an ophthalmologist’s office and includes a reception area, doctor’s office, review room ,staff lunch room, operating room, universal toilet room, staff washroom, utility and storage rooms and six patient exam rooms.

Reason for Appeal
Clause requires “access to all areas where work functions could reasonably be expected to be performed by persons with disabilities.” In addition to this provision, which applies to all buildings and occupancies to which Section 3.8 applies, Sentence requires access for persons with disabilities to areas in medical offices to which the “public is admitted.”

Appellant’s Position
The appellant contends that in an ophthalmologist’s office the only work function that could be performed by a person in a wheelchair would be that of a receptionist/secretary. The equipment used by the medical staff cannot be operated by persons in wheelchairs. Access has been provided for this employee as well as for patients by providing the universal toilet room and one accessible patient exam room.

Building Official's Position
The building official maintains that Clause applies to all Group D buildings and occupancies (not uses) and a relaxation for this particular Group D use is not warranted because full access would not be available for future tenants. A change of occupancy (not use) would be needed in the future before the Code could be applied. All the patient exam rooms should be accessible so when this Group D occupancy undergoes a change of use in the future it will be fully accessible.

Appeal Board Decision #1676
It is the determination of the Board that based on the proposed use (not an unknown future use) the provisions of Sentence are met by having the reception area, washroom and at least one exam room meet the accessibility standards. However, based on the information provided, the Board considers that persons with disabilities, including those using wheelchairs, could reasonably be employed in an office such as this and it should be designed and constructed accordingly.

George Humphrey, Chair