Accessibility Around Construction Sites’ Horrible, Disability Advocate Says

Author of the article:Antonella Artuso
Publishing date:Jul 09, 2022

Trying to navigate through Torontos many construction sites is terrifying, an advocate on behalf of people with disabilities says.

David Lepofsky, chair of the AODA Alliance, said the expanded boom in housing and transportation projects expected in the city must take into account the needs of all those trying to make their way safely through the maze of construction.

Im not saying theyre doing nothing, Im just saying whatever theyre doing is haphazard and from the point of view of us with disabilities, is horrible, Lepofsky told the Toronto Sun on Saturday. The bottom line is that our city has become a less accessible, more dangerous place for us just to walk around.

A new report to go before the City of Torontos Executive Committee Tuesday addresses what staff acknowledges is a disproportionate impact of construction on pedestrians and people with disabilities.

Provincial legislation requires that constructors provide accessible routes when sidewalks are disrupted, the report says.

A permit from the city is needed if the plan is to disrupt the right of way, whether it be a project by the city, utility companies, private developers, or Metrolinx, the report says.

It is not possible to proactively inspect every project but the city has and will continue to take measures to improve the quality and consistency of outcomes for pedestrians with disabilities, the report says.

For instance, city Engineering and Construction Services recently provided training to nearly 250 staff members including inspectors, project managers and engineers on accessibility in right of ways and undertook independent site audits, the report says.

However, members of the public, including those with disabilities, continue to find numerous examples of confusing or downright dangerous situations as they traverse the city, like a dead-end sidewalk at Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue, Lepofsky said.

I dont know if Ive ever encountered a construction site that wasnt terrifying, said Lepofsky, who is visually impaired, adding the Eglinton Crosstown is unnavigable by me despite his longstanding familiarity with the area.

The AODA Alliance has been pushing all governments to ensure public money is never used to create new barriers for people with disabilities.

Infrastructure projects are the classic example, Lepofsky said. We have a long, sad legacy of governments not doing that. They say all the right things and then they will go about creating barriers.

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