Toronto Election 2022: How Will the Mayoral Frontrunners Help Persons With Disabilities?

Nick Westoll looks at how the two Toronto mayoral frontrunners say they’ll address the issues being raised by persons with disabilities. Posted Oct 6, 2022

With the Toronto election less than three weeks away, advocates for persons with disabilities want to ensure issues affecting them and the community are front of mind for city council candidates.

“There is no excuse for Ontario, for Toronto to lag decades behind. We didn’t just invent people with disabilities last week,” David Lepofsky, the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance and a visiting professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, said.

CityNews recently met with Lepofsky on Roselawn Avenue in Toronto’s Forest Hill area to look at an example of his advocacy efforts to get the municipality to address a myriad of obstacles.

In mid-June, he was walking on the sidewalk on the south side near Latimer Avenue when he hit his head on a traffic sign that was leaning on an angle over the sidewalk at head level.

“When I, as a totally blind person, walk, my cane follows the shoreline, the edge of the sidewalk and the beginning of the grass –
that’s how I navigate. Well, that took me right into this (sign),” Lepofsky said.

“Either the City installed it this way in the first place, which is outrageous, or it somehow got knocked over sideways and it should have been fixed.”

He said he quickly called the City of Toronto’s 311 line and spoke with a friendly person. Lepofsky received an email receipt saying it was classified as an “investigate temporary condition sign” issue. However, he later learned the issue would be resolved within three months.

“I said this is a safety issue, a health and safety issue, and that didn’t change anything. Well, it’s been more than three months and nothing’s changed. It’s still here and it’s still dangerous,” he said on Wednesday.

CityNews took Lepofsky’s concern to City of Toronto staff Wednesday afternoon to ask why the matter wouldn’t be prioritized given it’s a safety issue and why it wasn’t fixed in the three-and-a-half months since it was first reported.

“The repair to the service request will be made within the next 24 hours,” a municipal spokesperson told CityNews in an email Thursday afternoon.

“David’s request was filed under the incorrect service type which is why the repair was delayed to be resolved. We will be providing relevant coaching to the staff who processed this request.”

As Lepofsky noted, barriers are easy to find in Toronto.

“This isn’t the only such protrusion. There should never be something sticking out at head level on a sidewalk in the path of travel. It’s dangerous for people who are blind. It’s dangerous for people who are looking at their phone texting it’s inexcusable,” he said.

On Yonge Street beside the CF Toronto Eaton Centre, a TTC project closed part of the sidewalk and road on the west side. A sign can be seen telling residents to turn right to navigate around the obstruction, but if someone misses that sign or can’t see it they will end up walking some distance before ending up at a dead-end fence.

On Queen Street West, CityNews found part four bolts sticking out of a concrete section of sidewalk marked with some spray paint.

Outside Union Station, a bunch of debris can be seen stored on the side of the sidewalk out front.

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