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Ensuring Accessibility in New BC Apartment Buildings: Addressing Cost Concerns

In British Columbia, as we strive towards a more inclusive society, the new provincial building code regulations that will make all new apartment buildings 100% accessible is a reality. However, this Global BC story explains developers are concerned about the potential costs which will become a significant barrier to implementing such necessary changes. While some concerns may be valid, we must emphasize the long-term benefits and the moral imperative of ensuring accessibility in all new constructions.

Opponents of the new building codes, which took effect in March this year, often cite increased construction costs as a primary concern. They argue that these additional costs will be passed on to buyers and renters, potentially making housing less affordable. While it’s true rooms will need to be bigger, and fixtures and bathrooms need a re-think which could lead to some initial costs, it’s crucial to consider the broader picture.

When accessibility features are included from the outset, developers can benefit from economies of scale. Bulk purchasing of materials and standardized design practices can significantly reduce costs compared to retrofitting existing buildings. Short-term pain equals long-term gain.

The actual cost increase for incorporating accessibility features during the initial construction phase is relatively modest. Studies have shown that making a new building accessible typically adds only a small percentage to the total construction costs. For instance, a report by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in the United States found that incorporating basic accessibility features adds less than 1% to the construction costs.

Accessible buildings reduce the need for costly retrofits and renovations in the future. As the population ages and the demand for accessible housing increases, buildings that are already equipped with these features will have a competitive advantage in the market, potentially increasing their value.

Twenty-seven percent of Canadians identify as having at least one disability. At some point in your life, you may need an accessible place to live. With an aging population and a growing awareness of the needs of people with disabilities, ensuring accessibility in new apartment buildings meets a market demand that will only continue to grow.

There are tons of benefits to building like this. Accessible buildings foster inclusive communities, allowing people with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in society. This inclusivity not only enriches the lives of individuals but also strengthens the social fabric of our communities. If people have accessible places to live in an area, they are more likely to stay and work there which adds to the local economy.

Accessibility is a fundamental human right. Ensuring that new apartment buildings are accessible is not just a matter of convenience but of equity and justice. Everyone deserves the opportunity to live in a safe, comfortable, and accessible environment. Ensuring accessibility in new constructions is not just a financial consideration but a commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable society. It’s time to embrace this vision and prioritize accessibility in all future developments.