“Living in Place”, the Older Women’s Network’s housing campaign, calls for a
change to the Ontario Building Code to require that ALL new residential buildings
be 100% universal design or easily adaptable, so that anyone of any age or ability
can live there. Toronto City Council has endorsed this campaign
OWN is asking everyone to write to their MPP (all parties), as well as the Premier
and the Ontario Ministers of Health, Finance, and Housing. People in other
provinces are also urged to take up the issue with their political representatives.
A detailed sample letter is below, which can be adapted. It is more effective if
people add their personal circumstances and concerns, but the important thing is to
contact your politicians, even with only one or two sentences.
Re: Urgent need for universal design apartments and condominiums
Whatever their age or ability, everyone needs a home, and preferably a home they
will not have to leave due to accident or illness.
At present, thousands are forced out of their homes, at the most vulnerable time in
their lives, simply because the home is not built to be barrier-free or easily
adaptable when needed to become barrier-free.
The result is overflowing beds at hospitals and long term care facilities, and long
Just imagine the difference if the Ontario Building Code required that all units in
new multi-unit residential buildings were 100% accessible, instead of just the
current 15% “visitable”, and if all used universal design principles.
Universal design allows spaces to accommodate anyone of any age or ability,
going beyond mere accessibility. It demonstrates an underlying commitment to
including as wide a range of users as possible for a “lifetime of changing needs and
Over 4.4 million Canadians (one out of every seven) currently live with some form
of disability. And the numbers are growing as you and I age, with estimates that
this will change to one out of every five within the next 15 years.
Many people, including many builders, believe that universal design costs a great
deal more than conventional design. However, evidence from places where
universal design is more commonly used, such as Australia, shows that the cost of
universal design in housing is less than 1% more when planned from the initial
design stage. It is renovation to conventional housing, changing it when accessible
accommodation is needed, that is prohibitively costly.
I urge you to ensure the Ontario Building Code Section 126.96.36.199 is revised
immediately in keeping with the legal requirements under the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code to recognize all persons
with disabilities as people first, by making universal design mandatory in all rental
and ownership apartments.
Thank-you for your support of this urgently needed change.