Storing your belongings in a multi-family parking garage is a fire hazard. A fire could go undetected and spread among loose items left in parking stalls, potentially extending to neighbouring vehicles and residential units above.
Beginning early this year, we will be conducting fire inspections of multi-family residential parking garages, to ensure compliance with BC fire and building codes and our municipal bylaw. Remember, leaving loose items in your parking stall is a violation of the Fire Code. Unpermitted storage lockers are also not allowed.
It’s important to store your belongings safely in approved storage spaces in your building. A storage garage (parkade) is a building, or part thereof, intended primarily for the storage or parking of motor vehicles and containing no provision for the repair or servicing of such vehicles. As a subsidiary use, storage garages may also contain space for parking or storing other vehicles (bicycles, boats, etc.).
The increase in volume and type of items stored in storage garages (parkades) has prompted many BC municipalities to embark on programs to bring their parkades into compliance with applicable codes and bylaws.
The construction of storage garages is regulated under the British Columbia Building Code (BCBC). Storage garages are specifically designed for the parking or storage of vehicles, and storing other items may increase fire risk. Changes to these stalls may either require a permit or may not be permitted.
It is important to note that storage rooms are a different occupancy classification than storage garages. Many multi-residential properties have separate storage rooms that comply with the BC Building Code and the BC Fire Code.
Storage Garage Guidelines
- The BCBC considers and treats a storage garage to be a different occupancy than a storage space, therefore, a fire separation with a minimum fire resistance rating of 1.5 hours is required between the storage garage and any storage spaces.
- Separate storage rooms are often incorporated as part of the original construction of commercial and multi-family residential buildings. These rooms are specifically designed for safe storage purposes, with fire-rated doors, walls, and fire sprinklers.
- Secure, clearly visible storage of bikes, typically contained inside a permitted chain link fenced enclosure, does not constitute either a hazard or an ongoing maintenance issue with respect to the BC Building Code or the BC Fire Code. The District of West Vancouver has approved this type of installation under permit.
- If a storage space was constructed in a storage garage, whether recently or in the past, it is likely that it was constructed without the benefit of permit or inspection approvals, and is not permitted to be there. A ‘legally non-conforming’ or ‘grandfathered’ status does not apply to these installations.
- Additionally, firewood is an accumulation of combustibles and is not permitted in parking garages.
Considerations for Constructing a Compliant Storage Space
Should you wish to construct a code-compliant storage room in a storage garage, please be aware that:
- Not all buildings are designed with additional space in which to construct a rated storage room.
- It may also not be feasible or possible to construct a rated storage room in a parking stall.
- It is necessary to have a preliminary consultation with both the District's Planning Department and Permits & Inspections Department staff to determine the viability of the proposal.
- A Building Permit and/or a Development Permit may be required. Review and comment by a building code consultant may also be required. Electrical and fire sprinkler permits may be required depending on the extent of the work.
- The Fire Inspector will be assessing your storage garage for compliance. If the storage garage contains non-compliant storage, the Fire Inspector will serve you with a conditional pass on your routine annual fire inspection report in order to give you time to correct the violation.
- It is the Strata Corporation’s responsibility to ensure that the property is used and managed in compliance with codes and bylaw regulations. It is therefore our expectation that you will bring the storage garage use into compliance as requested and remove all non-compliant storage space(s) and return your storage garage to its original use as vehicle storage.
- By January 1, 2024 you must remove all non-compliant storage spaces and/or lockers that are not separated by a fire separation with a fire-resistance rating of 1.5 from the storage garage.