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YMCA of Greater Toronto Opens Its Most Accessible Centre Yet

Cooper Koo Family Cherry St. YMCA design goes above and beyond latest accessibility standards

TORONTO – April 26, 2016 – When the Cooper Koo Family Cherry St. YMCA opens its doors May 30, it will be the most accessible YMCA building to-date.

This Centre of Community, developed in partnership
with Waterfront Toronto, Infrastructure Ontario and the Province of Ontario is a legacy building from last summer’s Toronto 2015 Pan Am / Parapan Am Games.

The Parapan Am Games Committee praised Cooper Koo YMCA as one of the most accessible sports venues they’ve used.

“The YMCA is committed to diversity and social inclusion by providing
accessible environments that respect the rights of every individual,” explains Alex Versluis, YMCA of Greater Toronto’s Vice President of Property
Management. “Cooper Koo YMCA was built from the ground up with the
highest standards in mind!”

The YMCA of Greater Toronto’s newest Centre of Community will support more than 8,000 people through a variety of services and programs in the heart of the new and developing Canary District. This
modern, state-of-the-art 82,000 sq. ft. centre will include spaces for youth and community activities, a gymnasium, swimming pool, an accessible green roof, and fitness studios and exercise areas.

Community Collaboration

This new facility was designed with direct input from CNIB regarding their Clearing Our Path guidelines, and following the Accessible Built Environment Standard defined by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

Throughout the project, the YMCA of Greater Toronto implemented rigid accessibility standards which had designers import technology all the way from New Zealand. These specifications ensured we went above and beyond paint colours and worked on tonal distinctions between elements, such as a door and its doorknob. Suppliers of wooden doors, door hardware, and metal framing were challenged to evaluate their material for their tonal values. This process helped move the industry along the continuum to supplying materials that support this new approach to persons with visual disabilities.


Many of the new design features improve one’s journey through the facility.

For instance, entrance turnstiles have been replaced with electric gates to
accommodate mobility devices, each floor has spacious universal accessible
change rooms, wayfinding displays braille and large mounted letters with
appropriate colour contrast, and tactile walking surface indicators signal
changes in surface levels.

Other features worth noting include:

  • Mobility device routes designed with proper slopes and door widths
  • Pool lift to ease access to the water
  • Accessible machines in the conditioning room
  • Green roof completed to AODA standards
  • Fire safety systems armed with audible and visual alerts
  • Counters, sinks and water fountains are mobility device accessible

For more information and media interviews please contact:

Talía Noya, Public Relations Specialist
YMCA of Greater Toronto
E: | T: 416-928-3362 x 22486 | M: 647-962-0360

About the YMCA of Greater Toronto

For more than 165 years, the YMCA of Greater Toronto has been providing leadership and working with partners to solve complex social problems to create measurable outcomes that strengthen the social health of our
communities. As a charity, the YMCA offers a variety of programs responding to the needs of the community, including child care, employment services, education and training programs, immigrant services, youth leadership development, outreach and intervention, health and fitness programs, camps and volunteer development. Serving
the population of the City of Toronto and the regional municipalities of Durham, Peel, York, and Halton plus Dufferin County, last year the YMCA connected with more than 500,000 people across 372