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Deli Owner Upset After City Orders Removal of ‘Unsafe Wheelchair Ramp’

Owner wants to work with city to modify wheelchair ramp
Julian Katz, 31, owner of Stasis Preserves Deli & Pantry in Roncesvalles has been told by the City of Toronto he needs to remove his wheelchair ramp from the front of his business because it has been deemed unsafe and limits sidewalk space. Katz said he wants to work with the city to find a way to modify the ramp, rather than destroy it. Bloor West Villager
By Aaron D’Andrea

Julian Katzs dream of having his business, Stasis Preserves Deli & Pantry, accessible for everyone is at danger of being taken away.

Three years ago, Katz hired a company, StopGap Foundation, to install a wheelchair ramp at the front of his Roncesvalles deli to make it accessible.

However, on March 15, the City of Toronto served the 31-year-old with a notice to remove the ramp by March 22 because it was deemed unsafe by officials.

Its a big challenge for people to not have access, he told Metroland Media Toronto. We just wanted to be inclusive in the neighbourhood and give people that option to shop here if they wanted to.

The ramp has been there for three years, and we have never had a single complaint or any issues.”

Officials also said the ramp limits sidewalk space for pedestrians.

The City of Torontos transportation services department said the ramp doesnt meet requirements set by the province in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

We had a complaint about the ramp, and we looked at it, said Fiona Chapman, manager of pedestrian projects at transportation services. It doesnt have railings, its not wide enough, the slope is too high, and its got a little landing because thats got a 90-degree turn on it which doesnt give sufficient room, so essentially its not a safe structure.

As part of AODA, the provincial government has created a goal to have Ontario accessible by 2025.

According to the law, a ramp must have a minimum clearance width of 900 mm, and landings must be provided at the top and bottom of the ramp where there is an abrupt change in direction of the ramp.

Also, landings must be a minimum of 1,670 mm by 1,670 mm at the top and bottom of the ramp and where there is an abrupt change in direction of the ramp, and it must feature handrails on both sides.

Based off of measurements made by Metroland Media Toronto, Stasis clearance width is 940 mm, and its platform is 1092 mm by 1092 mm, although the city said it wouldnt be wide enough if railings were installed.

The ramp has been there for three years, and we have never had a single complaint or any issues, Katz said. Those guidelines cant apply in every single situation to be realistic, if you want the city to be accessible, then there needs to be certain exceptions.

Ward 14 Parkdale-High Park Councillor Gord Perks said he and other councillors are looking at ways to help businesses, but it will take time.

I feel badly that the city has to take this action, but Im pleased people (like StopGap) are looking for a solution, he said. But on the other hand, we need real solutions that actually do provide access safely.

Luke Anderson, founder of StopGap, agreed with Katzs claim that requirements need to be adjusted when it comes to accessibility.

StopGaps solution to this problem is allowing us to have this conversation of what might be a better solution, he said. Lets collectively work on making the design better so that its practical and its safe.

Chapman said she and her staff want to work with Katz so he can keep the ramp, but Katz said its unfortunate these talks would have to happen now after he was told to remove the ramp.

We need an extension (on the deadline), he said. The ramp has been used by so many people and the concerns being raised are valuable feedback the city needs to listen to.

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