FREDERICTON (CNB) – The provincial government is enhancing building regulations to make public buildings more accessible to persons with physical disabilities.

"We have committed to modernizing and enhancing provincial building standards to improve accessibility for all New Brunswickers, regardless of their physical abilities," said Premier David Alward. "These changes represent genuine progress in ensuring equal access for everyone."

A proposed regulation under the Community Planning Act is intended to create higher minimum standards of accessibility for certain new commercial buildings. The draft standards will be posted online for 30 days for public comment before taking effect. The new regulation will not be mandatory but municipalities and rural communities are being empowered to adopt it.

"This regulation is a significant step in our vision of an accessible New Brunswick and we look forward to collaborating further with the province to achieve this goal," said Courtney Keenan, president of Ability New Brunswick.

The regulations are an enhancement to Section 3.8 of the National Building Code of Canada 2005, which is currently in force in the province.

The new standards will remain in place until the province adopts its own New Brunswick Building Code Act, which includes mandatory new accessibility standards, in late 2012.

The new act will adopt National Building Code of Canada Act 2010 and make enhanced barrier-free regulations mandatory for all new buildings and major renovations on certain commercial buildings; and for multi-unit apartment buildings and condominiums province-wide.  

In the meantime, the proposed regulation under the Community Planning Act will allow for more consistency in parking lots for people with disabilities; provide for greater access to teletypewriter telephones in public areas; and generally make buildings more accessible.

Other examples include installing bathroom taps that are easily operated by those with dexterity issues, or providing one barrier-free room in a tourist establishment with more than 10 rooms and one barrier-free unit in apartment buildings or condominium complexes for every 20 units.

"The Department of Public Safety has been pleased to work closely with the Premier's Council on the Status of Disabled Persons and Ability NB in creating these proposed guidelines," said Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Robert Trevors. "We look forward to adopting the New Brunswick Building Code Act in 2012, when we can make sure barrier-free buildings are the norm throughout the province."


●    Public review of draft regulations