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Door knob

Alas, the lowly doorknob will soon be a thing of the past, at least in the city of Vancouver.

CTV News reports that doorknobs are now officially passé in Vancouver following city council's recent decision to usher in Canada's first adaptable housing bylaw.

Starting in early 2014, all new housing units constructed in Vancouver will be forced to include several new accessibility features, including wider stairways, higher electrical outlets and a bathroom located on the main floor.

But what really has people talking is the total banishment of doorknobs in lieu of new lever handles.

And while some door-opening purists are bemoaning the departure of doorknobs, the changeover has been in the wind for some time, according to one locksmith.

"A lot of the manufacturers have stopped making doorknobs because they knew this was coming," said Jason Scheide of the Toronto-based company Spadina Security.

The undeniable truth is that levers are a more sensible option for those homeowners with limited strength and movement, including arthritis-sufferers or people in wheelchairs. Even the average person with an armload of groceries can appreciate the easier-to-turn lever handles.

The catch: Switching over to levers brings added costs. Since each lever handle requires an extra spring, they're roughly $20 more than a doorknob of similar quality, said Scheide.

"That might change, but right now in the market, levers are more expensive," he said.

In this case, however, the slight price differential seems to be a non-issue.

"In the lifetime of a house, almost 100 per cent of houses will have someone that needs these features, so it makes real sense," said Jill Weiss, chairwoman of Vancouver's persons with disabilities advisory committee.

Like it or not, it's probably only a matter of time before the doorknob-to-lever switchover rolls out into other cities.

Scheide said he's been recommending the lever option to clients for the past five years, and not just because they're easier to use. Besides the convenience factor, the lever handles simply look more modern.

"Doorknobs are usually dated and ugly and we're happy to change them," said Scheide.