Standards or Intent?

Well Easter is behind us, spring looks like it is upon us and I’m starting to ramp up for the season.  Good to be able to get out to do some wheeling around without rain.

I recently wheeled over to check out the new Smitty’s restaurant.  Upon my arrival I discovered a senior trying to open the door to get into the restaurant while balancing on her walker.  It was quite the activity considering the door is on a small incline and swings out.  As a wheelchair user I know how difficult it is to pull a door towards you while balancing on an incline.

I quickly fired off an e-mail to Nanaimo City engineering asking why there was no automatic door opener in a “new” restaurant.  The response from the Director of Engineering and Public Works read (and I quote) “I have looked that section up and yes it does require a power operation for all door in the accessible path for that use. The section though is only applicable for that use if it exceeds 500m2 in area, the building you reference is only 347m2“.  He added some other bureaucratic double speak and that was it.  Meanwhile the Tim Hortons, right across the parking lot, is less than 150m2 but has automatic door openers on both sides of their small building.

Call me crazy but the powers that be have to understand that “standards” and “intent” go hand in hand.  The standard is fine however it was created with an intent.  City regulators need to take intent into account and they also need to cross reference other pieces of legislation/regulations like the Fire Code or human rights.

Elevator to nowhere
Meets code but totally misses “intent”

Case in point (and I just received this) is this elevator.  The elevator meets all of the code standards required however it doesn’t come close to meeting the intent.  This is happening with too much frequency these days.  I would assume that upon inspection the elevator met all of the standards of the code but whoever approved it totally ignored the intent.  It is nice to have an elevator for access purposes but this is like an elevator to nowhere when you can’t get past the stairs once the door opens.  Is there no common sense left in our City administration?

I don’t care if the restaurant is 200m2 or 500m2, what I do care about is that those issuing the permits recognize intent as well as standards.  The intent of the automatic door opener is to ensure  safe access to everybody regardless of the size of the building.  If I have to wheel up an incline and then attempt to back up while pulling a door, well I just won’t be going there anymore.

My issue here is not the restaurant but those issuing the permits.  Call me foolish but I don’t expect businesses owners to know every part of every legislative or regulatory issue they may have to face.  However I do expect that those issuing the permits provide adequate advice to businesses when it comes to standards and intent.  I want to know that my tax dollars are being paid to people capable of using some critical thinking skills and that means understanding standards as well as INTENT.

No automatic door here either
No automatic door here either

So when I discovered the Dollar Tree was also lacking an automatic door opener and it is obviously more than 500m2 I send a picture and note to the same manager.  Again this situation involves wheeling up an incline and pulling open a very heavy door.  I have yet to receive a response from that manager.

So I put it to all of those “code interrupter” out there.  Do you take the “intent” into account or is it basically your personal interpretation of one piece of an action that counts?

In closing allow me to ask the City, when issuing permits do you put as much value on the “intent” as you do on the standards?

Just one man’s opinion…

One thought on “Standards or Intent?”

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