BRITISH COLUMBIA

Vancouver Doorknob Ban Applies To All New Buildings

11/19/2013 06:21 EST | Updated 04/24/2014 05:59 EDT

The doorknob is dead in Vancouver.

Well, maybe dead is too strong a word, but it's certainly on its deathbed after the city legislated it out of existence.

Vancouver's new Building By-law, which passed unanimously at a Sept. 25 council meeting, states that all doors and faucets in new buildings be equipped with lever handles instead of knobs.

The Vancouver Sun has since published a eulogy for the doorknob that suggested similar changes could soon come to provincial and national building codes.

That story triggered a flood of media requests to City Hall and Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs wants to make one thing clear.

"If you want a story that says 'wacky city requires all doorknobs to be replaced', that story is false," he told The Huffington Post B.C.

But what exactly does the city have against a mechanism that has ushered people into buildings for centuries?

A lack of accessibility, for one thing. People with arthritis or disabilities have difficulty turning knobs, and levers simply make it easier for them to open doors, Meggs said.

"It's been treated as a sort of new level of red tape but I see it actually expanding freedom for people to move around and be safe in the city," he said.

The city's attention to accessibility flows out of a concept known as universal design, in which an environment is built in a way that is open to everyone, the Sun reported.

The doorknob ban and its underlying concept have drawn enormous attention online, with Salt Lake Tribune reporter Jim Dalrymple saying, "I visited Vancouver earlier this year and found that its progressive design initiatives had actually created a wonderfully pleasant city; perhaps sometime we’ll look back at this decision with similar admiration."

Yahoo! reporter Steve Mertl asked whether universal design could mean that stairs would be replaced with ramps or elevators.

He also suggested new regulations around kitchen cabinets: "Those top shelves are hard to reach if you're a creaky old boomer or just vertically challenged. Why not require all cabinets to be no higher than eye level?"

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