press release

Press Release
For Immediate Release:

Action for Universal Design







“Living in Place”© campaign calls for Ontario Building Code to be changed to require that all new apartments and condos be 100% visitable and adaptable for barrier-free living for all.

Sept 18, 2017

Toronto ON – MPPs and staff have been invited to join a discussion about the changes
needed to the Ontario Building Code to begin to address the accessible housing crisis
Ontario currently faces and the future housing needs of the province. The Older Women’s Network of Ontario (OWN) is calling on the Wynne government to make universal design in all new multi-unit residential housing required. People with disabilities, care-givers, accessibility specialist, designers & builders will share their personal experience and knowledge at Queen’s Park on October 4.

Sponsored by the Older Women’s Network, the event has the support of MPP Mike Colle. Refreshments will be made available at the Information session courtesy of Daniels Corporation, which is designing 2 new projects which exceed current Building Code requirements.

Date: Wed Oct 4, 2017

Media Conference: 9 a.m.

Media Studio, Legislative Building, Queen’s Park

Information and Discussion: 9 am to 12 noon

Committee Room #230, Legislative Building, Queen’s Park

Universal design accommodates people of any age or ability to include as wide a range
of users and abilities as possible. Current legislation mainly addresses the able-bodied.

Disabilities play no favourites. Anyone can be struck by an illness or accident which
can create a temporary or lasting disability at any age.

Renovating an existing residence built with current OBC requirements is extremely costly, which has convinced the design and construction communities that accessibility is hard and expensive. However, research shows that making a residence fully adaptable from the early design stage raises costs only about 1% above standard construction and allows for accessibility changes when needed.

Full adaptable and visitable design in housing will save the Ontario government millions
of dollars as it cuts down the large and growing list of people waiting for accessible housing and or long-term care facilities.

“Individuals will be able to stay in their homes for their entire lifespan and will have a continued connection to community and support”, says Associate Professor Howard Gerry of OCAD University.

The current building code requires only that 15% of units be “visitable” (not fully accessible), which means people in wheelchairs are unable even to visit 85% of the units in new buildings. That makes no sense and is inconsistent with the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


Media contact: Kate Chung,
Older Women’s Network (416) 214-1518
115 The Esplanade, Toronto ON M5E 1Y7

Learn more:

Thea Kurdi, Architectural Accessibility and Universal Design Specialist, explains:

Click to access backgroundfile-94585.pdf

“Mulit-unit residential, housing which is designed to be adaptable and visitable from the start of the design process, is just smarter design. It avoids the rookie mistake of ignoring the reality of the human condition – a lifetime of changing needs and abilities, and the realities of our demographics. It will make housing multi-generational and affordable to transform into a barrier-free environment when needed. The Living in Place campaign is a smart future-proofing strategy that should be adapted in all provincial and national housing strategies”, says accessibility specialist Thea Kurdi.

Sandra Carpenter, Executive Director of the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT) reports “At CILT we have hundreds of people waiting for accessible affordable housing. It a huge and chronic problem.”

“Life would have been much easier if our apartment had been barrier-free from the time my son was younger”, says Pamela Andrews. “I wish we had an accessible apartment where a larger walker would fit, and the possibility of installing a lift in the bathroom to help move 13-year-old Aidan into and out of the bathtub now that he is growing so much heavier”.

“ Current developers tend to use off -the–shelf building plans for new housing developments. These plans are not designed to be universal or even accessible. A Provincial strategy needs to address this continued development of segregated communities and needs to acknowledge that if homes are designed Universally (Visitable or Flex at the very least) then diverse and sustainable communities can be created. Individuals will be able to stay in their homes for their entire lifespan and will have a continued connection to community and support.

The City of Vancouver has been proactive with the implementation of the “Vancouver Building Bylaw” which requires all new homes to have wide doorways and hallways, stairs that can accommodate a lift, pre-installation of plumbing to accommodate a roll in shower and many other universal design features.”
– Howard Gerry
Associate Professor, Faculty of Design, OCAD University

“Another area that gets little attention are injury stats and the financial implications. The PHAC states that injuries to seniors in their homes costs one billion dollars per year; removing architectural barriers and designing the inside & outside of our new dwellings
to be safer would no doubt bring those numbers down. The business case for accessibility is very strong….”
– Roger Gervais
Eastern Ontario’s first Certified Aging in Place Specialist



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