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Stadium Needs to Improve Accessibility, Says Group

By Nicole Thompson
Hamilton Spectator

Tim Hortons Field lacks important accessibility features for people with disabilities even though it’s been in use for months, say members of a city advisory committee.

The issues include poor visibility and barriers for people using mobility devices.

The sports field, where the Hamilton Tiger-Cats play their regular season, opened last September. But the stadium on the site wasn’t declared “substantially complete” until May.

Last month, members of the city’s Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities toured the facility, which was renamed the CIBC Hamilton Pan Am Soccer Stadium for the duration of the Games.

“The city’s project team has met with the Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities (ACPD) on site to review their list of concerns,” Rome D’Angelo, director of facility management and capital programs, wrote in an email.

D’Angelo says some of the committee’s recommendations are on a deficiency list of issues yet to be addressed.

Others need to be added, some members say.

Terri Wallis, a member of the committee for nine years, says while on the tour she saw wheelchair accessible washrooms with handles on the hinge-side of the door. In addition, the emergency call buttons were too far from the toilet, making it easy for people to fall over when trying to push them, she says.

Wallis, who uses a wheelchair, says the carpet pile was so high that it was hard for people who use wheelchairs and scooters to wheel on.

Tim Nolan, also a committee member, says that while he didn’t attend the tour, he’s heard that there are issues with sightlines at the stadium, particularly for people in wheelchairs and scooters.

None of those mobility issues are on the deficiency list, D’Angelo says.

There were also significant issues for people with vision loss, Wallis says.

For people who have partial or impaired vision, increased contrast makes it easier to see important details.

But in the stadium, “everything is grey, various shades of grey,” Wallis says.

One example, she says, is the stairs. Typically, in this type of venue there’s a bright yellow warning strip on each step.

At the new stadium, the stairs are “light grey with a dark grey warning strip,” she says. “So nobody can see that. It’s completely useless.”

Moreover, the glass windows and doors have grey decals on them, also hard to see.

Both of these issues are on the list of stadium deficiencies, D’Angelo says.

Another item on the list: Braille on directional signs that’s too high for people in mobility devices to touch and use. Wallis also noted the Urban Braille at the site didn’t indicate there was a stadium. D’Angelo said this was not on the deficiency list.

In spite of these shortcomings, the city shared an email from a stadium worker who wrote that a spectator in a scooter said stadium volunteers and staff made a visit there on Saturday easy for her.

D’Angelo wrote in an email that any issues he was made aware of would “be discussed with the contractor and (Infrastructure Ontario) and dealt with as a deficiency or through the stadium operations group.”

Alan Findlay, vice-president of communications at Infrastructure Ontario, wrote in an email that they “welcome any feedback to build on our high standards and will work with the city on any concerns the committee brings forward,” including “seeking any corrective action for items (for which) Ontario Sports Solutions is responsible.”

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