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Vancouver heading toward doorknob-less society

Nov. 19, 2013 at 9:33 PM   |   Comments

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Vancouver is just months away from becoming the first Canadian city where doorknobs are banned in new housing construction.

The city approved changes to its building code in September outlawing doorknobs in favor of levers. Also on the way out are faucets with knob-like handles. The changes take effect in March, with existing homes grandfathered in.

Vancouver is something of a Canadian trendsetter when it comes to building codes, the Vancouver Sun reported Tuesday. It's the only city in the country with its own building code, and many standards it sets find their way across the country via the National Building Code, the newspaper noted.

When it comes to doorknobs and faucet handles, the change is aimed at making life easier for people with arthritic or otherwise weakened hands.

Allen Joslyn, president of the Antique Door Knob Collectors of America, told the Sun he isn't a fan of doing away with doorknobs for homes.

"I can understand if you have a public building where everybody wants to have free access and that is a problem," he said. "But to say that when I build my private home and nobody is disabled that I have to put levers on, strikes me as overreach."

Tim Stainton, a professor and director of the School of Social Work at the University of British Columbia, said the idea behind requiring lever door-openers is to make society as open as possible for everyone.

"The old model was adaptation, or adapted design," he said. "You took a space and you adapted for use of the person with a disability. What universal design says is let's turn it around and let's just build everything so it is as usable by the largest segments of the population as possible."

Will Johnston, a former Vancouver chief building inspector who wrote the changes in consultation with the building industry, says the switch to levers is a trend.

"Technology changes. Things change. We live with that," he said. "... When I look at what we are proposing, it is simply good design. It allows for homes to be built that can be used more easily for everybody."

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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