Right away, industry representatives met with city officials and councillors to try and figure out what was causing the breakage and how to prevent it from happening again. Then, when the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing created the Expert Advisory Panel on the Glass Panels in Balcony Guards, both BILD and the OHBA made sure they were at the table representing the industry and the numerous homeowners across the GTA.
Last week, the province released an interim solution that came in the form of an amendment to the Ontario Building Code. What it means is that starting July 1, construction companies will be using heat-strengthened laminated glass when the glass is close to the edge of a balcony. This glass is the same type of glass used in car windshields and is less prone to shatter. Companies are also required to use heat-strengthened laminated glass or heat-soaked tempered glass where glass balcony guards are inset from the edge of the balcony.
The amendment was a recommendation of the Expert Panel, which produced a report you can read on the Province’s website. The Panel was made up of 25 representatives including engineers, building code consultants, developers and contractors, designers, municipal staff and insurers. The Canadian Standards Association also participated and is now going to develop a national standard for glass panels in balcony guards.
From the beginning, the Expert Panel’s mandate was to make recommendations on how to improve the building process. During the discussions, it was clear that it was most important to everyone that we find solutions rather than find fault.
Our industry builds 40,000 homes every year across the GTA, and for every aspect of the building process, there are specific standards to meet. Those standards are set out in the Ontario Building Code and as we say at the Association: Code is King. The Code is reviewed every five years and as an association we are involved in and support the continuous improvement of the Code as products and technology evolve over the years. This latest amendment to the Code is the first step toward developing a new standard and the use of heat-strengthened laminated glass will increase the safety of glass panels in balcony guards.
The Building Industry and Land Development Association and its members are proud of the homes and communities that they build for homebuyers across the GTA every day. We are also proud to be part of the continuous improvement of the Ontario Building Code and the building process.
– Bryan Tuckey is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and can be found on Twitter (twitter.com/bildgta), Facebook (facebook.com/bildgta), Youtube (youtube.com/bildgta) and BILD’s official online blog (bildblogs.ca).