Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Peds on Weds: Condo access fail

Suppose you're going to spend $18.5 million on a 12-storey (later 16-storey) condo building. You might build it with exclusively one-bedroom apartments that cater to young, single individuals. Such apartments aren't big enough to raise children, so you wouldn't need to worry about your residents getting in with a stroller. And your target market is decades away from using a wheelchair.

So despite legislation that gradually encourages more and more compliance to provide equal access to people with disabilities, you install a step at the front door:

If a resident loses a limb or is paid a visit by a wheelchair-using relative, there's a second-class entrance at the side of the building. When they're dropped off at the front of the building (as is customary), someone who is unable to walk up a step would of course have no difficulty walking 60 feet or so out of their way on a snowy sidewalk:

To add insult to (hopefully no) injury, the entrance was initially built with a direct ramp from the sidewalk. The step was added after the fact:

According to the Condo project website, a new development in "contemporary Canadian cities" has the following requirements: "a sharp and creative Development Team with a solid track record of success ... design innovation, marketing savvy, systematic project management, financial prowess and political acumen." (I won't go into the "partnership with...neighbours" bit where the first the community association heard of this development was the day before it went to the Committee of Adjustment)

But as the CCCA's Seniors Committee regularly writes in their column in the Centretown Buzz, our ageing population means that we also need to ensure that new buildings are built with accessibility and visitability in mind. These qualities are essential in ensuring that ageing individuals can continue to live in their homes, ensuring a healthy diversity of the community.

There's only so much you can do for older buildings that were constructed before universal accessibility was a consideration, but for new buildings there's no excuse a person with a mobility restriction can't enter the building with as much dignity as an able-bodied person from the first time they visit.

[Tune in on Wednesdays at noon for a new pedestrian-themed blog post. View the Pedestrians label for previous Peds on Weds posts]

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