Group Pushes for Wheelchair Access to Patios

CBC News, August 22, 2012.

An advocacy group for people with disabilities is pushing to make Montreal’s patios more wheelchair accessible.

Linda Gauthier, president of the Regroupement Activistes Pour l’Inclusion Québec, or RAPLIQ, said Tuesday that most of Montreal’s restaurant and bar terrasses are still inaccessible to wheelchairs.

Montreal is known for its restaurant, café and bar patios, but too many of them are inaccessible to wheelchairs, an advocacy group says. (CBC)

“It’s exactly the same thing that if there would be a black person they would tell him, ‘You’re not allowed on my terrasse because of your colour.’
It’s discrimination,” Gauthier said.

An increase in the number of installations on sidewalks during the summer is also making it difficult to get into stores, she said.

“What was accessible for us like some stores, before, because of all the terrasses on the sidewalks, we cannot access it anymore.”

Even those stores that can be navigated to are often inaccessible to wheelchairs, she said.

The city’s Southwest borough is one of two with regulations forcing business owners to make their facilities wheelchair-accessible.

Véronique Fournier, a city councillor for the borough, said accessibility will become increasingly important over the next few years.

“We’re going to be in an aging society in Quebec, and this issue will be very important in Montreal,” Fournier said. “When you can go on a terrasse
in a borough but on another one you cannot go, it doesn’t make sense. If you want universal accessibility, it should be on all the territory of the city
of Montreal.”

Gauthier said there should be city-wide legislation regulating patio accessibility, and her group will give other boroughs like Ville-Marie until
Dec. 31 to commit to changing their accessibility rules and regulations. After that, RAPLIQ intends to file a human rights complaint, she said.

Reproduced from