With Ontario’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) mandating all buildings in the province to be fully accessible by the year 2025, the clock is ticking for many property owners to get into compliance.
Elevators are essential features of accessibility, allowing individuals with mobility challenges to get where they need to go inside the building. However, not all elevators are created equal. In fact, choosing the wrong model can create major problems for your compliance, your tenants, and visitors in the long run.
“A common mistake that many commercial property managers make is assuming that all elevators are built the same,” says Florence Facchini, Business Development Director at Mississauga, Ontario-based Federal Elevator.
Facchini cites three of Federal Elevators’ own models to demonstrate the differences between elevator types, organized from low to high in terms of usage, capacity, and speed.
The next task is to assess the building property where the elevators will be installed. Questions to consider:
“We need to understand the capacity of the building and how busy the location is to recommend the proper model,” says Piatti. “If you have a six-storey building with housing, you can use a LULA, but it will take quite a long time to get to the sixth floor. If you have a high-rise condo, you would use a passenger elevator.”
The space requirements for the elevator of choice aren’t simply based around the internal room or door, but on the overhead as well as the pit, which contains mechanisms essential to the elevator’s functions.
“A passenger needs 12 feet of overhead,” says Facchini. “A LULA is 9 to 11 feet, and a Carelift is 9 feet of overhead.” When retrofitting an existing building, Facchini notes that choosing the wrong model may require you to reinforce the roof structure and perform rebuilds, which can drive up costs. “If you have a building with existing roof structure and you only have 11 feet, you won’t be able to go to passenger. A LULA would be a better fit than a Passenger, as their dimensions are smaller.”
Further, the pit – a void dug into the ground to help the floors be flush with each other upon landing – requires different measurements depending on the model. “A passenger pit requires 5 feet. The LULA needs 14 inches, and a Carelift requires only 8 inches.”
The building use is also a major consideration for selecting your elevator model. Consider these questions:
“Many companies have had their staff working remotely during the pandemic,” says Piatti. “If someone has a two-storey building and the offices upstairs are not always occupied, you might want a LULA rather than a passenger. On the other hand, if you’re a small church or hall with a two-storey building that needs to help people travel on Saturdays or Sundays, you’d use a Carelift or, if you’d prefer to have an automated service, a LULA.”
Finally, consider the amount of money you want to invest in your elevator. Passenger elevators can cost upwards of $90,000, and are more expensive due to their capacity and larger space requirements. If accessibility is the primary concern, then Carelifts ($20,000-$30,000) or LULAs ($30,000 to $48,000) are more cost-effective and require less maintenance.
Piatti and Facchini note that other factors to consider are service shutdowns, quarterly servicing, annual testing, etc. “If you’re in a critical function like a hospital,” says Facchini, “you’ll definitely need multiple elevators, but a doctor’s office for non-urgent care can get away with one or two for accessibility, while others can take the stairs. Schools will tend to opt for LULAs for the same reason.”
Do you have additional questions or concerns about meeting your AODA 2025 requirements? As one of Canada’s largest commercial property management companies, Armadale can help you. Contact us today!