Accessibility activists demonstrate on Montreal metro’s 50th birthday

Click to play video: 'Metro needs to be more accessible: activists'
Metro needs to be more accessible: activists
WATCH ABOVE: Friday marked the 50th anniversary of Montreal's metro system but not everyone was in the mood to celebrate. Demonstrators gathered at the Place-des-Arts station to draw attention to what they call the inaccessibility of the city's transit system – Oct 14, 2016

Friday marks the Montreal metro’s Golden Jubilee with celebrations taking place throughout the day.

But one transit user, Aimee Louw, was not in a celebratory mood.

She joined others in a protest at the Place-des-Arts Metro station to draw attention to the ongoing inaccessibility of Montreal’s transit system for the disabled, those with reduced mobility and the elderly.

READ MORE: Woman in wheelchair who got stuck in turnstile wants better access

“It’s one of the less accessible metros in the world,” Laurence Parent, founder of Transport Mésadapté, said. “We’re here to remind the STM about that fact.”

In a speech at the 50th birthday celebrations, Société de Transport de Montréal (STM) chairman Philippe Schnobb, reminisced about the first ride he ever took on a metro but admitted it may not be as special as it once was.

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“We take it for granted,” Schnobb said. “People don’t realize how important it is. Do you know how many people are in the metro in peak hours in one day? Two hundred thousand. It’s like the sixth biggest city in Quebec.”

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Parent isn’t one of those people who takes it for granted.

READ MORE: Montreal metro turns 50, what will next 50 years bring?

“When the STM invited people to come and celebrate they didn’t mention anything about accessibilty, so we had to fight to come here today to celebrate,” she said.

That’s because the station isn’t normally accessible. According to Louw, the STM agreed to make the station temporarily accessible following an outcry on social media, from transit users with reduced mobility .

Parent argued the word “accessibility” isn’t even part of the conversation and that needs to change.

“I was very disappointed with Philippe Schnobb’s speech,” she said.  “He mentioned the WiFi but he didn’t mention the accessibility. Even if they are starting to make investments, it’s not part of the discourse and it should be.”

The investment Parent is referring to is a $213 million injection to make Montreal’s metro system more universally accessible by 2022. Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, made the announcement earlier this week.

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READ MORE: Montreal metro stations to get overhaul in bid to increase accessibility

There are currently 10 stations equipped with elevators. The hope is to bump that number up to 31 by 2022 and have the whole network retrofitted with elevators by 2038.

For Parent, those upgrades can’t come soon enough.

“It’s so slow,” she said. “We’ve been waiting for 50 years.”

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