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Toronto needs new plan to be barrier free as accessibility becomes law, says advocate – Toronto

As the city seeks to renew its accessibility plan, those who want to eliminate barriers say some Toronto small businesses are putting them up instead of tearing them down.

Maayan Ziv is the founder of AccessNow, an app that finds and rates accessibility of restaurants and stores, found out a place where she used to buy shawarma on Spadina Avenue is no longer barrier free.

She says she was shocked to find that the entrance to the Paramount Fine Foods — on the corner of Spadina Avenue and Richmond Street West — suddenly has a step. 

“There used to be another Middle Eastern restaurant there and in renovating they built over and existing ramp and created a step,” said Ziv. “They went in the wrong way in terms of accessibility.”

It turns out there is indeed a secondary entrance that is accessible off Richmond Street, though not always used or consistently open, and that the restaurant now has a StopGap ramp to help make its main entrance barrier-free.

Public consultations begin

But other businesses in her neighbourhood have also added steps where there used to be a barrier free entrance, Ziv says. The renovation of the Pizzaiolo at 123 Spadina Avenue also included the addition of a step.

Manager Anik Gosh says the store did have a sloped entrance before but that steps had to be put in to create a stairway to the second floor. He says his store is also looking into putting in a StopGap ramp. 

While the front entrance of this Paramount Fine Foods now has a single step, the location has put in a StopGap ramp to make it more accessible. (Google Maps)

But Ziv says that “to have business invest in additional or new barriers is absolutely ridiculous.”

Ziv voiced her concerns to CBC Toronto ahead of Monday’s public consultations on how it plans to meet the standards of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) in the areas of employment, transportation, information and in acquiring goods, services or facilities. The…

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