The Quebec government has just adopted regulations setting minimal accessibility requirements for the inside of certain new apartments. With some exceptions, these requirements will apply to apartments located on the ground floor or on a floor accessible by elevator in buildings with more than 2 floors and more than 8 units.
Designers will get to choose between two levels of accessibility:
- Minimal Accessibility
These units will allow people with limited mobility to access and move around in a few rooms (living room, dining room and washroom).
These standards are stricter. Adaptable units will allow people with limited mobility to access and move around in several rooms (living room, dining room, washroom, kitchen, at least one bedroom, and the balcony, if there is one).
These units will be easier to adapt to the needs of people with disabilities later on because they include the necessary equipment and surfaces. For example, the height of the plumbing equipment in these units can be adjusted.
The difference in the cost of these two levels of accessibility is very small (around $300 per unit).
The new regulations take effect on September 1st, 2018, but they won’t be applied until September 2020.
Quebec Accessible applauds this project as a step in the right direction. However, we think the regulations should have gone further, for example by requiring all new units to be adaptable. As the Order of architects recently noted, Quebec is already far behind in this area. Adaptable units are therefore the best option to help us fill this gap.
The application of these new regulations will have to be closely monitored to make sure they really meet the needs of people with disabilities.
Quebec Accessible also takes this opportunity to call for the creation of a registry of accessible housing in Quebec. Let’s not forget that the initial version of the Law to ensure handicapped persons in the exercise of their rights (1978) required the government disability office (OPHQ) to set up such a registry. The OPHQ never did this, and this obligation was removed when the law was modified in 2004. When Quebec adopts a new accessibility law, this obligation must be reintroduced to help people find accessible housing.
To learn more about the new housing accessibility regulations, visit the website of the Régie du bâtiment du Québec (in French).