Calgary Councillor Asks for Improved Accessibility Around Popular Pop-Up Patios

Ina Sidhu CTV News Calgary Video Journalist
Published Wednesday, June 16, 2021

CALGARY –Calgarians with or without mobility issues are taking to social media to point out flaws with some of the temporary sidewalk setups around pop-up patios.

“They’re not leaving enough room to give the wheelchair a chance to turn on the end of the ramp,” said Athena Cooper, who uses a motorized wheelchair.

Cooper came across a ramp on Kensington Road N.W. at the end of May which wasn’t easy to access and tweeted her concern.

“My concern when I posted it was that are people aware that you know this is an issue. You can’t just lay a ramp down and say, “Okay we’re now accessible.”

Cooper said there are accessibility guidelines that should be followed to give enough space around the ramp. There are also large gaps between sidewalks and ramps in other locations.

Since Cooper voiced her concern, there are now asphalt ramps on either end of the the stretch of Kensington Road between 10A Street and 11 Street.

The city says 195 patios have popped up this year, mainly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Permits for 25 more are in the queue.

It’s received six complaints so far about accessibility issues around the patios.

“It was introduced very quickly so the response was urgent and perhaps not executed with a lot of knowledge around accessibility,” said Ward 7 Councillor Druh Farrell.

Farrell said patios add vitality to streets and has long been an advocate for temporary patios, but says the city can do better moving forward.

“What I would like to see is when you put up a patio, test it out. Bring a wheelchair down and try it out and see whether or not it works. We’ve got partners with the advisory committee on accessibility who are willing to advise us as well.”

Farrell has just brought a motion forward to address accessibility issues along with other transportation concerns.

“I think its just the temporary nature has been problematic but we need to set down clear rules. If you want a pop-up patio, then let’s keep that pedestrian access clear and straight so it’s predictable and navigable for people with all sorts of disabilities,” she said.

Farrell points to other cities that have a patio culture and notes the pedestrian part of the sidewalk is kept clear.

“It shouldn’t be a surprise when you walk down the street to find out that the sidewalk is blocked. We know that we can do better.”

The city said it is actively working to make its temporary patio set ups accessible to all users.

For locations where space is tight, the city has been looking at alternatives such as restricting parking on the roadway.

Anyone who has a complaint about the accessibility of pop-up patios should contact 311.

Related: City council votes to improve accessibility issues around Calgary pop-up patios(opens in new tab/window)

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