Editors Note: This Letter was originally sent to the Premier on the date below. Thursday, September 11, 2014
by Rina Fraticelli
Dear Premier Wynne,
I am writing with regards to the pressing issue of accessible transit in the city of Toronto.
As you are well aware, this situation has been extremely inadequate, to put it mildly, and
on the face of current evidence1, promises to continue to be that way for the foreseeable future. I request that in accordance with AODA requirements, the TTC put forth a
concrete plan for making the transit system fully accessible in the next 10 months.
Apart from the impact of the daily grinding frustration and cost this creates for the
citizens of Toronto with disabilities trying to make their way around this booming metropolis, it is an enormous disincentive for visitors with disabilities.
The upcoming Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games is a case in point. As
Executive Director of Tangled Art + Disability, I look forward to the opportunity to
showcase the wealth of talent, skill, ingenuity and vision in the community of artists we represent to the guests this significant event will attract.
Tangled is proud to be one of a small group of arts organizations commissioned to create
and produce an original work for the Panamania Festival. We’re convinced that our
production of Push!, created and performed by diverse cast of elite para athletes, will be a great favourite of Panamania audiences. However, the difficulty of securing an
accessible venue in proximity to accessible transit is presenting an exceptional, potentially prohibitive challenge.
We know that Toronto’s transit situation leaves much to be desired for all its residents. The recent media coverage of the “unacceptable” delays faced by Queen Streetcar
travellers (who had to continue wait while full cars passed them by) ought to help us put
into perspective the decades-long “delays” faced by wheelchair users. With no streetcars,
with the potential exception of the short-route Spadina Car, and far too few subways
accessible, this situation is critical. The only fully accessible cross-downtown route is the
Wellesley bus, which only stretches as far as Ossington Ave. to Parliament St., a fraction of the downtown core.
Without dwelling on its shortcomings, I hope you will agree that the current Wheeltrans
system is exceedingly limited. People with disabilities -possibly the fastest growing
segment of the population-cannot be considered equal citizens in Ontario, when their access to transportation is denied.
According to the TTC website, the roll-out of the new, accessible streetcars will take “several years to complete.” This is entirely unacceptable. We need east-west
accessible transit across lower Toronto now. There are solutions -both short-term and
long-term. We are asking you to convene a working group to address the long-term,
complete solution to access before any further plans are made to improve the TTC.
Short-term, and urgently, we are asking that the TTC signal its commitment to serving all its residents by immediately assigning a dedicated accessible bus along our major, iconic east-west corridor, Queen street, on a regular, reliable half-hour
schedule. This short-term solution does not require any major structural changes or
financial investment and so we ask that this change be made by the end of October 2014.
We ask that all downtown streetcar routes be made fully accessible by the opening of the Pan/ParapanAm Games, July 2015.
Tangled Art + Disability
CC. Andy Byford
Chief Operating Officer, TTC
Olivia Chow, John Tory
The Honourable Steven Del Duca
Minister of Transportation of Ontario
The Honourable David C. Onley
Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
Interim Councillor Trinity-Spadina
Editor, Toronto Star
Senior Entertainment Editor
Creative Director Arts + Culture
TANGLED ART + DISABILITY
401 Richmond St W Suite S-30