Accessibility in the Built Environment Policy and Building Standards

Policies and programs

Accessibility in the Built Environment Policy and Building Standards

​​​​​​​
​Policy owne​​r:​​​Facilities Management
​Approval:​​​​Board of Directors
​First approved:​December 3rd, 2015
Effective date:​December 3rd, 2015

Download a PDF version of the policy


Policy Statement

Toronto Community Housing is committed to working with residents to create and maintain buildings and properties that are accessible and inclusive, so that everyone can equally participate in their communities. To do this, Toronto Community Housing will:
  • bring its buildings up to the Toronto Community Housing Building Standards for Accessibility, over time, while continuing to address residents' needs as they arise on a case-by-case basis ("Building Standards");
  • monitor and upgrade its buildings and properties on an ongoing basis to meet resident needs and meet legislated requirements, and will prioritize practical accessibility considerations;
  • be pro-active when making decisions and allocating budget resources related to the built environment.

This policy guides Toronto Community Housing in providing functional, practical accommodations while working together with residents to meet their accessibility needs. These needs include ambulatory needs, needs related to vision and hearing impairments, mental health needs, and other needs required to accommodate a disability as defined by the Ontario Human Rights Code, including accommodation for currently used medical devices. Toronto Community Housing is committed to working with residents with disabilities and resident accessibility advocacy groups (for example, the Responsible Personal Accessibility in Toronto Housing (R-PATH) resident-led committee) in all aspects of delivering accessibility in the built environment, including the establishment and revision of the Building Standards.

While one purpose of this policy is to work towards ensuring ensure compliance with the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and the Ontario Building Code, Toronto Community Housing is committed to going beyond these requirements to address the full scope of residents' accessibility needs, including needs related to vision and hearing impairments, and mental health issues. Regulatory compliance and the commitment to going beyond such requirements will be achieved over time as part of an on-going process that will be diligently implemented.​


Scope

This policy applies to all Toronto Community Housing properties, including the design and construction of new buildings, existing building common and outdoor spaces, revitalization & refurbishment projects, and in-suite modifications. It applies to Toronto Community Housing residential, commercial and general support/administration spaces.

Principles

In keeping with our values of respect, accountability, community collaboration and integrity, Toronto Community Housing will implement this policy in accordance with the following principles:
  1. Aim to provide practical and functional accommodations in all new, revitalized, and refurbished buildings; and in existing buildings where structurally possible.
  2. For existing buildings and communities, prioritize accommodations based first, on safety; second on resident, community, or staff request, and third on audit information.
  3. Collaborate with residents, including resident advocacy groups (for example, R-PATH) and residents with disabilities to ensure renovations, refurbishment and new buildings are barrier free and to remove barriers in existing buildings. Toronto Community Housing will work one-on-one with residents to establish appropriate accommodations that meet their needs, including residents who may have specific medical requirements.
  4. Provide safe, practical, and functional in-suite modifications to meet residents' needs as efficiently as possible and provide a transfer process to meet resident medical needs where current unit cannot be sufficiently modified.
  5. Deliver accountability and transparency through regular monitoring and reporting to the Board of Directors against targets and goals.

Definitions

​​

Disability:

​From the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H. 19:
  1. any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness;
  2. a condition of mental impairment or developmental disability;
  3. a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoke language;
  4. a mental disorder; or
  5. an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, S.O. 1997, c. 16 schedule. A, or Ontario Disability Support Program.

​In addition, the definition of disability under the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H. 19, may include, but is not limited to:
  • Acquired Brain Injury
  • Deaf, deafened, hard-of-hearing
  • Low vision or blind
  • Chronic health conditions (cancer, epilepsy, heart disease, etc.)

Hearing/sight accommodated units:

Any residential unit that has been modified with medical equipment or technology to accommodate a resident with a visual or hearing impairment with medical documentation and submitted/approved through the Toronto Community Housing accommodation request process.

Wheelchair/mobility unit:

Any residential unit that has been designed, built or modified to accommodate someone with physical disabilities who is medically required (supported by medical documentation and submitted to Accessibility Program) to use a mobility devices to meet their mobility needs. These units will meet all legislated requirements and Build Standards. Medical mobility devices may include: walker, manual or electric wheelchair,mobility scooter or any other device that would create a need for a clear path of travel at least 914.4 mm wide.

Policy Details

This policy provides an overall direction for how Toronto Community Housing approaches accessibility in the built environment. It describes our commitment to working with residents:
  • to find appropriate solutions for individual residents;
  • to ensure barriers are being removed in existing buildings; and,
  • to ensure that new, revitalized, or refurbished buildings are barrier free.

It also outlines our approach and commitment to providing practical and functional design in all buildings, where structurally possible, and our commitment to transparency and accountability through regular reporting.

In existing buildings where modification is not practical because of structural and/or building service constraints, a transfer process will be made available to residents to enable them to move to a unit that meets their needs.

The policy will be applied using the Accessibili​ty in the Built Environment Procedure and the Building Standards.

The financial requirements of this policy will be implemented through Toronto Community Housing's annual budget. The categories of the accessibility budget are:​
  • Planned capital, common spaces in buildings 200 or more units;
  • Planned capital, commons spaces in buildings with fewer than 200 units;
  • On-demand common space;
  • In-suite modifications;
  • Infrastructure – Audits and database requirements;
  • Development – Incremental upgrades on new builds.

​The first four categories are permanent features of the accessibility budget. 'Infrastructure' and 'Development' may change and/or other categories may be added dependent on needs.

Building Standards

Toronto Community Housing will monitor, update, and implement procedures and standards for new developments, refurbished or revitalized communities and existing buildings on an on-going basis. Toronto Community Housing will review any Building Standards upon request from, and in collaboration with residents and resident advocacy groups (for example R-PATH). Toronto Community Housing Building Standards will strive to meet the needs of currently used mobility devices and always default to the Ontario Building Code as a minimum standard. The Building Standards will be upgraded on an ongoing basis as equipment, products and devices are upgraded or made available in the market

The applicable standards will vary by building type (new/renovation/commercial/ administrative) but they will follow the same principles as described in this policy and in the Building Standards.

Accessibility Design Reviews

Toronto Community Housing will review accessibility projects on an ongoing basis. Facilities Management, Development, and resident accessibility advocacy groups (for example R-PATH) will review projects before construction.

The Facilities Management Design and Engineering unit will review projects at the design stage to ensure compliance with legislation and Toronto Community Housing's Building Standards. The Facilities Management Operations unit will review during construction. A resident advocacy group (currently R-PATH) will conduct a review at the completion of the project, at the request of a resident, a resident body, Toronto Community Housing, or at will.

Residents with disabilities who live in the community where the work is being done will also be consulted at the start and the end of projects.

When developing new buildings or renovating/refurbishing existing properties, Toronto Community Housing will apply the Toronto Community Housing Building Standards as updated from time to time. Toronto Community Housing will also consult with resident advocacy groups, external agencies, and internal divisions where appropriate. Such efforts will consider and address accessibility, with a particular focus on removing barriers faced by people with disabilities and ensuring the principles of dignity, independence, integration, and equality of outcomes are upheld.

Emergency Response

As part of the implementation of this policy, Toronto Community Housing maintains an Emergency Response Procedure for Residents with Disabilities. This procedure outlines how residents with disabilities will be accommodated in emergency situations, including, but not limited to:
  • full building elevator malfunctions;
  • fires;
  • floods;
  • long-lasting power outages;
  • Acts of God.

The specifics of the Emergency Response Procedure can be located within the Emergency Response Plan.​

Compliance Monitoring and Reporting

Since accessibility is an important part of the Toronto Community Housing strategic plan, accurate and regular monitoring and reporting are necessary.

Facilities Management - Design and Engineering will ensure projects are compliant with the Building Standards and all legislative requirements.

The Vice President, Facilities Management will report quarterly to the Executive Leadership Team on the capital program implications of the Building Standards. Accessibility measures will also be reported annually through the Annual Report.

Governing and Applicable Legislation

  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005)
  • Accessibility Standards for Customer Service (Ontario Reg. 429/07)
  • Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (Ontario Reg. 191/11)
  • Ontario Human Rights Code (1990)
  • Ontario Building Code (Ontario Reg. 332/12)
  • Employment Standards Act (2000)

Related Policies and Procedures

  • Accessibility Policy
  • Accessibility in the Built Environment Procedures
  • Building Standards for Accessibility

Commencement and Review


Revision Date Description of changes Approval
First approval:​​Dec. 3rd, 2015NewBoard of Directors
Revision #n/a
Last review:n/a

Next Scheduled Review Date: December 2017


​Building Standards for Accessibility


​​Policy Owner:​Facilities Management and Development
Approval:​Executive Leadership Team​​
First Approved:​​October 27, 2015
Effective Date:​October 27, 2015

​Purpose

These Building Standards accompany the Accessibility in the Built Environment Policy and Procedure. They provide detailed regulation to staff, consultants and contractors during the design and construction phases of all new buildings, revitalized buildings, and retrofit projects for common spaces and in-suite modifications.


Scope

The Building Standards (“the Building Standards”) apply to all new, revitalized, retrofit, and existing buildings. They are the Toronto Community Housing regulations that govern all aspects of design and construction. The Building Standards that go above the Ontario Building Code are not optional, unless structurally prohibitive in existing buildings. The Ontario Building Code is to be followed as a default, and for all standards not listed in this document.


Toronto Community Housing will upgrade common space areas on an ongoing basis throughout the portfolio, based on resident requests and audit information. In-suite modifications are completed based on resident requests, with medical documentation, as outlined in the Accessibility in the Built Environment Procedures.


Definitions


Disability

From the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H. 19:

  • any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, birth defect or illness;
  • a condition of mental impairment or developmental disability;
  • a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoke language;
  • a mental disorder; or
  • an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, S.O. 1997, c. 16 sche. A, or Ontario Disability Support Program.

In addition, the definition of disability under the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H. 19, may include but is not limited to:

  • Acquired Brain Injury
  • Deaf, deafened, hard-of-hearing
  • Low vision or blind
  • Chronic health conditions (cancer, epilepsy, heart disease, etc.)​

Mobility device

A device designed to improve the mobility of people with a mobility impairment, including walkers, manual wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, mobility scooters, or any other device that becomes available to the market to meet medically required mobility needs.


Remote access

A hand held device that can activate an Automatic Door Opener (“ADO”).


Tactile height

The distance from floor to the component containing tactile tiles or buttons.


Turning radius

the radius of the smallest circular turn that a mobility device is capable of making.


Wheelchair/mobility unit

Any residential unit that has been designed, built or modified to accommodate someone with physical disabilities who is medically required (based on medical documentation / support documents from a licenced medical professional) to use a mobility devices to meet their mobility needs. These units will meet all legislated requirements and Building Standards. Medical mobility devices may include: walker, manual or electric wheelchair, mobility scooter or any other device that would create a need for a clear path of travel at least 914.4 mm wide.​


Standards


Common Areas


General
  • Common area washrooms and kitchens will meet the same Building Standards as washrooms and kitchens in wheelchair/mobility units.
  • Common area washrooms will be family style and gender non-specific.
  • All washrooms will have “vacant/occupied” status indicators.
  • Outdoor common areas will have directional lighting.
  • Emergency buttons will be installed in all common area washrooms and in wheelchair/mobility garbage rooms.

Turning Radius – Common Areas
  • A turning radius of 2133.6 mm will be maintained in all new, revitalized and retrofitted buildings, and in new and renovated common spaces.
  • This will apply to both interior and exterior spaces.

ADOs – Common Areas

ADOs are to be supplied and installed in the following locations, in new and existing buildings:

  • Main and rear building entrances;
  • Fire safety doors;
  • Common space community rooms;
  • Common space washrooms;
  • Laundry rooms;
  • Common patio spaces;
  • Garage entrances;
  • Remote access to main entrance of buildings & parking garages;
  • Mailroom doors;
  • Access doors to outdoor common spaces.

ADOs will be connected to back up and emergency systems to make sure that they continue to work in power outages.


Curb cuts/Drop-off zones

Front entrance driveways are to be cut at 3175 mm and at 8534 mm from closest possible point to the building front entrance. Curb cuts must be 1524 mm wide flat both to be sloped flush to driveway with tactile plates as per Ontario Building Code, terminated and splayed at 45 degrees.


Buildings without driveways to Front Entrances: Toronto Community Housing will work with the City of Toronto to provide a drop-off zone directly in front of the building front entrance. The drop-off zone must be wide enough to allow the full length of TTC Wheel-Trans buses (buses are 8534mm long and 2438 wide) to be parallel to the curb and must allow for the bus to be close enough to the curb to provide space to discharge the ramp from bus to curb. Concrete from the sidewalk to the curb 1524mm wide.


Front Lobby
  • ADO buttons will not be placed on door frames and remote access will be available.
  • Intercoms will be vertical and have a tactile height of minimum 762 mm and maximum of 965.2 mm centre to floor.
  • Vestibule and lobby doors will be a minimum of 1066.8 mm wide.

Mail box areas
  • All mail box areas will allow for a turning radius of at least 2133.6 mm.
  • All accessible/mobility unit mail boxes will be on bottom two rows and have a minimum height of 711.2 mm from the floor.
  • A scooped, eight inch wide shelf will be installed below the mailbox unit to stop mail from dropping to floor.

Laundry rooms
  • All laundry rooms must be equipped with the following:
  • doors that are a minimum of 914.4 mm wide and a preferred width of 1066.8 mm;
  • doors with ADO-FOB access;
  • front load washers and dryers with front controls;
  • at least one triple capacity washer;
  • tables provided for folding clothes will be at least 812.8 mm high;
  • 2133.6 mm turn radius;
  • clear path of travel that is at least 914.4 mm wide.

Garbage and Recycling Rooms
  • New buildings, and existing buildings where structurally possible, will have a single garbage/recycling room designated for use by residents with disabilities and will provide sufficient space for garbage, recycling and organics.
  • Accessible garbage rooms will have an ADO with FOB access.
  • Emergency buttons will be supplied and installed.

In-Suite Areas

No wheelchair/mobility unit will be developed in new, revitalized or refurbished buildings above the ninth floor.

Medical priority transfers for residents who use a mobility device will only be approved where the wheelchair/mobility unit being transferred to is on the 9th floor or below.


ADOs – In-suite
  • Entry doors to wheelchair/mobility units;
  • Entry doors to units where resident has provided medical need documentation due to hand/arm/shoulder, strength/dexterity;

Turning Radius – In-suite
  • A turning radius of 2133.6 mm will be maintained.
  • This will apply to both interior and exterior spaces, with the only exception being the inside of roll-in shower stalls, where a 1524 mm turning radius will be maintained.

Unit doors
  • All new, revitalized or refurbished buildings will have lever style handles on all entry and in-unit doors.
  • All existing entry and in-unit doors will be converted to lever style handles whenever repairs or replacement is required.
  • All non-sliding interior doors will have lever handles and flush door thresholds.

Flooring materials
  • Flooring materials in wheelchair/mobility units will be aesthetically similar to the flooring materials used in non-accessible units. Linoleum and tiles should not be used unless they are also used in similar non-accessible units
  • Materials used should be appropriate to a residential space, and should not give the feeling of an industrial or institutional environment.

Thermostats

All thermostats are to be located:

  • no higher than 914.4 mm from the center of the thermostat unit to the floor;
  • no lower than 762 mm from the center of the thermostat unit to the floor;
  • no closer than 1219.2 mm from the inside corner of any adjacent wall;
  • in-suite thermostats will be push-button style and will have a remote capacity screen display.

Outlets/ Circuit Breaker Panels/ Light Switches
  • All outlets will be located no higher than 812.8 mm and no lower than 711.2 mm, from the centre of the outlet to the floor.
  • All accessible units will have a minimum of four outlets (with two plugs in each outlet) available in each bedroom, living room, and kitchen.
  • Circuit breaker boxes will be installed with at least 965.2 mm between the floor and the bottom of circuit breaker box panel.
  • Light switches to be no less than 965.2 mm no more than 1066.8 mm from the centre of the light switch panel to the floor.

Telephone Jacks
  • All telephone jacks will be a minimum of 762 mm and a maximum of 965.2 mm from the centre of the jack to the floor.
  • A minimum of two telephone jacks will be installed, each on opposite walls, in all bedrooms and living rooms.

​Cable TV or network jacks
  • Two cable jacks will be installed in each bedroom and living room.

Cupboards
  • All accessible units will have plywood gable construction cupboards to allow hardware inserts to be installed as needed.
  • Toronto Community Housing will supply & install hardware inserts to kitchen cabinetry to allow contents of cupboards to be brought up or down to accessible height.
  • Under sink cabinets will not be installed, or will be removed as necessary to maintain leg clearance space un​​der sinks.
  • Countertops will provide 9144 linear mm of usable space.
  • Cupboards will provide 12192 linear mm of storage and will include one roll-out shelf with the dimensions the same as a wall mount oven, or one drawer to be a minimum of 660.4 mm x 660.4 mm x 279.4 mm height.

Ovens and Stoves
  • Toronto Community Housing will supply and install wall mount ovens with side opening doors and with self-cleaning capacity in all accessible units.
  • Oven controls will be at an accessible height.
  • A single pull out shelf will be supplied and installed, with a width that is equal to the oven width and depth of 50.8 mm under oven. Knee clearance will be maintained at 736.6 mm between the shelf and the floor.
  • All stoves will be flat countertop models and will include side or front controls. Knee clearance below the stove will be maintained at 736.6 mm.

Refrigerators
  • All refrigerators will have side-by-side double doors with deep in-door shelves and will have slide out shelves.

Kitchen sinks
  • All kitchen sinks will include side mount single handle taps with hose sprayers.
  • Under-counter knee clearance will be maintained at 736.6 mm.

Washroom
  • All in-suite washroom doors will be pocket or barn style doors.
  • Door handles will be ‘D’ style or flush mount only.
  • Sink taps will have wing extension and ‘D’ style handles and recessed flush mount only.

Closets
  • All closet doors will be pocket, barn style, or sliding doors. Two closet hanger rods will be supplied and installed. One will be 965 mm from the floor and the second to be 1955.8 mm from the floor.
  • Rods will be installed 381 mm from back of closet door.

Bedroom Doors

  • All bedroom doors will be minimum of 914.5 mm wide, 1066.8 mm wide where possible, and will have lever handles.
  • Hinged doors are acceptable on bedrooms but NOT on bedroom closet doors.

Bedroom size & placement
  • Any wheelchair/mobility bedrooms must be positioned directly across any hallway from a washroom and be 3352.8 mm x 6069 mm in footprint including closet space.

In-Suite Storage
  • In wheelchair/mobility units in new, revitalized or retrofitted buildings, in-suite storage will have dimensions of at least 1219 mm wide x 1524 mm deep with 914.5 mm wide accordion style doors.
  • Modified units will contain accessible in-suite storage where footprint and/or unit design allow, with the same standard as in-suite storage for new accessible units.

Interior Painting
  • All accessibility/mobility units are eligible for full or partial unit painting, determined by the resident, once every five years. The resident is responsible for the cost of the paint only. Toronto Community Housing will supply all labour for furniture movement and painting.

Other Related Documents

  • Accessibility in the Built Environment Policy
  • ​Accessibility in the Built Environment Procedure

Commencement and Review Revision

​​Revision ​Date ​Description od changes ​Approval
​First approval​October 27th, 2015​New​Executive Leadership Team
​Revision #​n/a​​
​Last review

Next Scheduled Review Date is December 2017