According to Webster's Third New International Dictionary, codes are
"...a set of rules of procedure and standards of materials designed to secure uniformity and protect the public interest in such matters as building construction and public health established usually by a public agency and commonly having the force of law in a particular jurisdiction."
For example, the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC) develops the National Construction Codes, which include the national building, fire and plumbing codes.
Standards-writing organizations sometimes publish not just standards but also codes. The Canadian Standards Association (CSA), for example, publishes the Canadian Electrical Code and the Highway Bridge Design Code.
You might need to know what is legally required when creating your design.
Codes are collections of laws, but not all laws are codes. (Confused yet?)
To find laws, you need to look at the federal, provincial and municipal laws governing the area you are interested in.
For desiging for the City of Toronto, you might need to look at:
Searches over 775 core domains at the Federal, Provincial and Municipal levels of government.
searches sites including: *.amt.qc.ca, *.lautorite.qc.ca/, *.bdrvm.com, *.bnq.qc.ca, *.amendes.qc.ca
Codes will help you with the technical aspects of your proposal. They outline what is generally acceptable and legally required in the industry.
Remember, codes are region specific; for example, there is a building code that is specific to Ontario, one that is specific to BC, etc.
Take a look at the different international building documents owned by the University of Toronto Libraries:
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