Unpacking the Updated 2024 Ontario Building Code: A Guide to Enhanced Accessibility and Inclusion

Unpacking the Updated 2024 Ontario Building Code: A Guide to Enhanced Accessibility and Inclusion

The recent update to the Ontario Building Code (“OBC”), released in April 2024, is the most substantial overhaul since its introduction in 1975. The revised OBC streamlines processes for the building sector and aligns closely with the National Construction Codes (“NBC”), reducing at least 1,730 technical variations for a unified standard across Canada.

Understanding the New OBC Format

The revised OBC adopts a new format where the regulation is consolidated on one page, available on E-laws. It reinforces the 2020 NBC for the harmonized parts of the OBC and to the 2024 Ontario Amendment document for the Ontario-specific requirements. This format is designed to simplify access and improve understanding of the code.

Key Dates for Transition

  • April 10, 2024: Official release and filing date of the 2024 OBC.
  • January 1, 2025: The 2024 OBC comes into effect.
  • March 31, 2025: Deadline for permit applications under the 2012 OBC where working drawings were substantially complete before January 1, 2025.
  • April 1, 2025: All new permit applications must adhere to the 2024 OBC.

Focus on Inclusion, Accessibility, and Wellness

Human Space has flagged a number of key updates in the 2024 OBC including:

Ontario Building Code

  • Entrances, and Areas Requiring Barrier-Free Path of Travel: Increased number of barrier-free entrances. Adjustments to areas where a barrier-free path of travel is not required to extend to.
  • Barrier-Free Paths of Travel to Building Entrances, Exterior Passenger Loading Zones, and Access to Parking Areas, and Exterior Walks: Provision for a direct barrier-free path of travel. Provision for a barrier-free path of travel within storage garages. Increased barrier-free path of travel width where a surface of a different texture is provided to that surrounding it, where the line of travel is level and even with adjacent walking surfaces.
  • Accessibility Signs: Provision for accessibility signs to provide visual information, the International Symbol of Access for Hearing Loss and appropriate graphical or textual information that clearly indicates the type of barrier-free facilities available, and assistive listening systems or adaptive technologies. Provision for directional signs with visual information. Provision for signs to provide the same information in both visual and tactile information, including reference to CSA B651, “Accessible design for the built environment”.
  • Doorways and Doors: Provision for doors equipped with a self-closing device to be equipped with power door operators where doors are in a barrier-free path of travel, between the entrance, including the interior doors of a vestibule, and the entrance doors to suites or rooms served by a public corridor or a corridor used by the public. Adjustments to minimum clear width at doorways and doors located in a barrier-free path of travel.
  • Ramps, and Passenger Elevating Devices: Increased ramp minimum width between handrails, and ramp level area. Provision for passenger elevating devices to have clear floor space, and clear width at entry doors or gates.
  • Assistive Listening Systems: Provision for assistive listening devices or adaptive technologies provided for the clear communication required for the exchange of information, goods, and services are provided to the public at service counters in buildings of assembly occupancy.
  • Water Closets Stalls and Enclosures, Showers and Bathtubs: Adjustments to minimum clear opening at water closet stall and enclosure door. Provision for universal dressing and shower room.
  • Service Counters, and Water-Bottle Filling Stations: Provisions related to service counters and water-bottle filling stations.

How Human Space Can Help

Human Space, as experts in the areas of inclusion, accessibility, and wellness in the built environment, can provide guidance on the nuances of these updates and can ensure that projects uphold the updates to the OBC. Our approach involves:

  • Analysis: Breaking down updates in the 2024 OBC to understand its implications on a specific project.
  • Consulting: Providing a customized solution that aligns with the OBC and a project’s goals.
  • Support: Assisting with applying standards, from planning through to execution.

How to Access the Code and More Information

To review the 2024 OBC, including the Ontario-specific amendments and the harmonized 2020 NBC, please visit:

  • The Building Code Regulation on E-laws, here.
  • The Ontario Amendment document, here.
  • The National Building Code, here.

For those interested in a deeper dive into the updates to the 2020 NBC, visit our blog post, here.