WATCH ABOVE: Advocates are saying the claim that Toronto is hosting the “most accessible Parapan Am Games ever” may be unfounded. They say some venues are already outdated. Christina Stevens reports.
TORONTO — As of Jan. 1, 2015, the Ontario Building Code requires a minimum three per cent of spectator seating to be accessible seating.
Plans to increase the minimum from one to three per cent had been in the works for years.
“But unfortunately the ParaPan Am Games failed to capitalize on that,” said Peter Athanasopoulos. Manager of Public Policy and Government Relations, at Spinal Cord Injury Ontario.
Instead, they built to the old minimum required seating.
Toronto 2015 organizers said they followed international Paralympic guidelines.
In a previous statement they said their venues “meet or exceed the industry standard of a 1 per cent capacity of accessible seats.”
That statement was sent to Global News in June.
Since then, repeated requests for a breakdown of numbers venue by venue have gone unanswered.
But Global News went to the minister in charge of both infrastructure and accessibility issues on Friday, to ask why the new venues would be built to the old one per cent standard when they knew they were planning to increase it to three per cent.
“What we’ve achieved is the most accessible games ever put on,” responded MPP Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure.
“Have we got it perfect at this point and time? I would suggest we are going to continue to learn.”
Other shortfalls with accessibility have cropped up as well.
After Global News reported the official Toronto 2015 App wasn’t accessible to those who are visually impaired, it was fixed.
But there are also problems with the website.
“I gave up and asked a sighted friend of mine to buy tickets,” said David Lepofsky with the AODA Alliance.
He said that his group’s recommendations were not acted upon by organizers.
Meanwhile, Athanasopoulos said they would have happy to provide input to organizers, but they were not asked.
“We were not contacted at all about venues and what it takes to be accessible.”