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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Toronto BIAs recognize disability issues


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by Andy Reeves, Spacing Votes correspondent

The Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) recently released a report entitled “Accessible Mainstreet.” Its aim, according to the group’s website, is to “remove many of the barriers people experience in public and commercial areas,” as outlined by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

With this, TABIA and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association are currently working with the Ministry of Community and Social Services to promote accessibility issues and solutions to small businesses.

While TABIA’s impetus is overtly market-focused — it claims that “people with disabilities account for an estimated $25 billion a year in consumer spending” — the report represents an important step toward the recognition of people with disabilities in business and city planning, including the designation of public spaces.

According to TABIA’s report, over 1.5 million Ontarians live with disabilities, roughly 13.5 per cent of the province’s total population. It goes on to state that:

“Over one-in-eight Ontarians have disabilities that keep them from more fully participating in society. That will only increase as baby boomers move into their senior years. According to Statistics Canada by 2025 the number of Ontarians with disabilities will grow to about 1 in 5.”

The release of the report coincides with the upcoming municipal election, yet disability issues are rarely on the agenda. This is despite the growing concern the issue plays for the over one million disabled Ontarians, many of whom live in Toronto. This City must realize the importance that accommodating disabilities has upon the lives of so many people.

The website also features an interesting video which demonstrates their ideas in action, and provides a curious example of a common streetscape as seen from the perspective of someone in a wheelchair. It highlights just how difficult some streets are to navigate anywhere, let alone Toronto. (Think Spadina on a Saturday afternoon in July.)

This would be a fine time for Toronto to address a growing and important daily issue, one that never happens to be sexy enough for an election.


One comment

  1. I wonder if TABIA has any idea of how lengthy the list of accessibility barriers *on its own site* is. They seem to be committed to improving architectural accessibility, if only with a 20-year deadline, but they’re ignoring the other kinds.

    Of course, since the TABIA site works in their IE6 just fine, there really isn’t a problem, is there?