Accessible services needed in Toronto

Ye Ha Levson finds it hard to climb the stairs at United Bakers Dairy eatery. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.

Customer clambers for a ramp so she can more easily enter her favourite eatery

By Kris Scheuer
(Written July 30 for Town Crier.)
North Toronto senior Bonnie Wynne wants an accessible entrance to one of her favourite dining spots: the Jewish eatery United Bakers Dairy Restaurant.
The 83-year-old, who had a stroke and relies on a walker, has frequented the eatery for more than 20 years, has recently asked the owners repeatedly to install a ramp. So far the response has been: it’s not possible.
“It didn’t bother me at all until I had the stroke a couple of years ago,” said Wynne, who has lived around Bathurst St. and Lawrence Ave. for 50 years.
“I get around with a caregiver,” she said. “She takes my walker and I pull myself up the railing and steps.
“It’s a lovely restaurant,” she added. “It’s getting in that makes it difficult.”Wynne’s granddaughter Tarah Bleier contacted the Town Crier to get help addressing the family’s concerns.
“I and others I know of would like to see a ramp installed and automatic doors put in, in the front entrance,” Bleier stated in an e-mail. “The steps that are their now are very steep and very dangerous.”
The way the restaurant is designed makes installing an accessible entrance too difficult to implement, the owner of United Bakers says.
“A ramp is not possible with our present configuration,” Philip Ladovsky said. “We don’t have the frontage for it. The ramp has clear specifications.
“We would like to assist people, but we can’t fit (a ramp) into our present configuration.”
It is not as simple as installing a ramp, he pointed out. It would require a rebuild of the restaurant’s entire entrance.
And that is too costly, although he did not say what the price tag would be.
“The inaccessibility is a problem for some of our customers,” he said. “It’s regrettable.”
Seniors over 65 make up almost 20 percent of residents in this area — half of whom are over 80 years old according to the latest info from Statistics Canada.
Certainly the community is not the only one that’s home to both an ageing population and people with disabilities that need proper access to stores and services.
With that in mind, the Ontario government is looking into how to require businesses to make their locations accessible.
On July 14, it initiated public consultations on developing mandatory accessibility standards. It has not become law yet, but some of the proposed requirements for businesses include accessible entrances, doorways and ramps, parking spaces and so forth.
Eglinton-Lawrence councillor Howard Moscoe says if the provincial legislation becomes law, he would hope it would include a clause to help businesses make changes affordable.
As far as the city’s jurisdiction, there isn’t much it can do to mandate businesses to become accessible.
“We can’t require retrofits (of businesses),” says Moscoe. “Retrofits costs millions of dollars.”
He said the city is forging ahead with making a public service more accessible, namely the transit system.
“The TTC is spending three to five million per subway to retrofit them for accessibility.”


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