The 2012 Building Code defines the accessibility requirements for most new construction and extensive renovations of buildings. These include requirements for:

  • barrier-free access paths of travel
  • fire safety devices
  • public washrooms
  • access to pools and saunas
  • seating in public spaces

The requirements apply to most new construction and extensive renovations in Ontario, and work together with the Design of Public Spaces standard.

Existing buildings are not affected unless an extensive renovation is planned.

Houses, including semi-detached houses, townhouses and duplexes are affected by smoke alarm requirements, but are not affected by most of the other accessibility requirements.

Barrier-free path of travel

Most building types must have a barrier-free path of travel throughout. There are also requirements related to publicly used spaces, such as entrances, rooms and hallways, throughout buildings that include:

  • turning spaces
  • ramp dimensions
  • building entrances
  • passing and rest spaces
  • minimum doorway and corridor widths
  • power door operators
  • tactile walking surface indicators

Barrier-free access between floors

Most new building are required to provide barrier-free access between all floors, including:

  • assembly buildings, such as theatres, community centres, and places of worship
  • care buildings, such as long-term care homes
  • commercial/retail buildings, such as supermarkets and shops

Barrier-free floor access is also required for residential and office buildings over:

  • 3 storeys high
  • 600 square metres in building area

Apartment suites

At least 15% of suites within a multi-unit residential building must be designed with basic accessibility features such as a barrier-free path of travel and doorway into the:

  • kitchen
  • bedroom
  • living room
  • full bathroom

Suites with accessibility features must be distributed throughout the building and represent the types and sizes of suites available in the building. For example, if a building has 1 and 2 bedroom suites, accessibility features must be available for both types.

Visual fire safety devices

Visual fire alarms and smoke alarms equipped with a visual component are an important part of enhancing public life safety for all occupants of a building. Visual fire and smoke alarms must be on every floor and in every sleeping room of residential buildings. The visual component conforming to National Fire Protection Association standards.


Most buildings must have barrier-free washrooms in public areas. The washrooms must be situated on a barrier-free path of travel and meet Building Code requirements addressing:

  • grab bars
  • signage
  • turning space
  • counter heights
  • doorway widths

Access to pools and spas

Pools and spas provide important recreational and exercise opportunities for people of all ages and abilities. Ontario’s Building Code requires barrier-free access to and around all public pools and some public spas.

Seating in public spaces

Requirements for accessible seating in public assembly buildings include space for:

  • side transfer from a wheelchair
  • adjacent companion seating for accessible seating spaces
  • storage for wheelchairs and other mobility assistive devices
  • accessible and adaptable seating throughout the viewing area