Accessible homes become law in Vancouver. Is a bylaw for Edmonton and other Canadian cities in our future?

Snapshots of a front entry door and a garden door for easy accessibility
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Old tools on a wooden table

Global News posted a story a couple of months back about Vancouver’s new Accessible Homes Bylaw. The bylaw includes new requirements for buildings, such as wider hallways, lever faucets in sinks, barrier free showers, lower switches and plugs, accessible switches for stair glides and accessible door viewers. Various news sites, forums, and blogs suggest that similar bylaws could be introduced to other jurisdictions in Canada.

http://globalnews.ca/news/865071/vancouver-council-passes-new-accessible-homes-bylaw/

http://www.canadiancontractor.ca/build/accessible-renovations-and-construction-become-law-in-vancouver

From an accessibility standpoint, this push seems to be a step in the right direction, but many people don’t like the new bylaw. The changes will mean additional expenses for new home buyers and people seeking out renovations.

What about here in Edmonton? Is a bylaw like the one passed in Vancouver a necessary or a good thing? As someone who deals with accessibility renovation projects, I’m somewhat torn over how I feel about this issue. On one hand, I think that the market is starting to speak for itself. More and more people are giving thought to their future needs and more and more companies are developing homes and products that meet accessibility requirements. People in need of these homes and products are gravitating to builders and renovators who can help them through the process of creating an accessible home. I’m not sure that adding more regulation to home building and renovating is the right answer.

On the other hand, a bylaw would help ensure that homes would meet certain levels of safety standards. In an industry where my friend’s cousin’s neighbour’s son can DIY his way through a home renovation, what is to stop that same person from providing ‘accessibility renovation services.’ Some standards should be met to ensure that people who looking to create an Aging in Place environment are, in fact, receiving one. As well, with accessibility being in its relative infancy, many home owners aren’t aware that living in their own home can be a better, more accessible experience. Perhaps a bylaw would help to bring that awareness to everyone.

It’s tough to say what the answer is, but one thing for certain. Accessibility is a topic that is gaining more and more momentum. As we start to figure out how these changes to our homes are to be incorporated, I think the most important point in this debate is perhaps taking a few moments and thinking about our own current and future needs for accessibility, before we find ourselves in a situation where we need changes to our homes and don’t have the resources to afford it.

If you’re in the Greater Edmonton area and are looking for a contractor for you renovation project, visit our website at www.nordalta.com/contact.php to find information on how to contact us. We’d be happy to speak to you about what we can do to get the ball rolling on your next home or office project. You can also leave comments with us at info@nordalta.com.

Michael Breault is a project coordinator for Nord Alta Construction. You can find the company website at www.nordalta.com. You can also find Michael and Nord Atla Construction on facebook at www.facebook.com/NordAltaConstruction, on twitter at www.twitter.com/Nordalta, and on LinkedIn.

Robert Breault is the president and owner of Nord Alta Construction. You can find the company website at www.nordalta.com. You can also find Robert and Nord Alta Construction on facebook at www.facebook.com/NordAltaContruction and on LinkedIn.