The Ontario government has amended the province’s building code after a recent spate of falling panes of glass from balconies in downtown Toronto.
“The public deserves to know that their homes and neighbourhoods are safe,” Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Kathleen Wynne said at Polson Pier on Thursday morning.
New changes include what type of glass must be used and how it is installed, depending on how close the pane is to the balcony edge, Wynne said.
The changes will take effect July 1. However, Toronto councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam said the amendments only apply to new structures and will not affect existing buildings.
While praising the move as a good first step, Wong-Tam told CityNews: “There’s been close to 30 panels that have fallen in the past two years. It could go a little bit further.”
Under the new Ontario rules, construction companies will now be required to use heat-strengthened laminated glass when glass is close to the edge of a balcony.
This is the same type of glass used in windshields and is less prone to shatter, the government said.
Wong-Tam said consumers need to know where their glass is manufactured.
Companies must use heat-strengthened laminated glass or heat-soaked tempered glass where glass balcony guards are inset from the edge of the balcony.
Last week, glass fell from a condominium on Simcoe Street near Richmond Street West, smashing onto two cars, but falling glass has been a problem in downtown since last summer.
On May 29, glass fell from the two outer window panes of the 30th or 31st floor of the RBC Centre at 155 Wellington St. W., crashing onto Simcoe.
On March 24, glass fell from the top floor of the Trump International Hotel and Tower on Bay Street, prompting police to clear nearby streets.
Similar incidents last August prompted two separate class-action lawsuits.
The two lawsuits represent owners and renters in the Murano Towers and the Festival Tower, who, according to the lawsuit, have not been able to use their balconies for nearly a year.
One woman was injured last summer, receiving a cut to her hand from a falling panel.
Lanterra Developments, the defendant in one of the lawsuits, announced that it would remove all tempered glass panels from its properties on Grenville, Grosvenor and Bedford streets and replace them with laminated glass. Thirty existing properties will be inspected, and future and current projects will also use laminated glass.