I went on a great walk today organized by Mary-Margaret McMahon, the councillor representing ward 32 here in Toronto. Our group included residents with visual impairments and those who use wheelchairs, as well as Adam Smith from the Beaches BIA, Edward Bimbaum and Laurie Smith from McMahon’s office. Along the route (from Brookmount along Queen to Lee) we pointed out the various obstables in our path, such as a fire hydrant in the middle of the sidewalk, poorly made concrete patches, and tree stumps.
We also discussed the need for ramps to businesses. The event was sparked by Joanne Smith, a resident (and, as I learned, my former Seneca classmate) who uses a wheelchair and cannot access the Starbucks at Queen and Brookmount. The cafe installed a ramp at her behest, but the city ordered it removed citing some regulation or other. The issue of ramps and the accessibility in general highlights how cutting corners cuts off people (i.e., taxpayers) and why it’s important that creative and innovating thinking must prevail when it comes to urban planning; not just in the broad scheme of things but also in day-to-day access.