Accessibility concerns at Calgary's new Central Library will be fixed, says CEO

Bill Ptacek says it's important to make changes quickly as people use the space and notice problems, but says there are some issues that can't be fixed.

Bill Ptacek says it's important to fix the issues quickly, but some things are set in stone

Sean Crump, head chair and CEO of Universal Access, says Calgary's new Central Library may be beautiful, but it also has barriers to accessibility. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

The Calgary Public Library's CEO says improvements are under way to make the new Central Library more accessible.

Bill Ptacek says it's important to make changes quickly as people use the space and notice problems, but says there are some issues that can't be fixed, like the sloped sidewalk on the west side of the building, designed to accommodate the C-Train tunnel. 

"All these things are important for us to respond to, and respond to quickly. Because again, the true test of the building is when people come in and use it. When you have over 100,000 visitors, then that's probably the best way to find out," he said. 


Some Calgarians highlighted concerns with the building shortly after it opened on Nov. 1, including difficulty accessing an outside elevator, using the self check-out counter, or getting into a board room. 

Ptacek says the library worked closely with the city's accessibility review team as the library was being built, but even he has noticed some issues, like elevators that move too fast or doors that are too heavy. 

"We're going to do more to let people know that if they have any accessibility issue, there's no reason why they have to navigate any ramp at all, if they can just use the elevator into the building and then we have elevators in the building, and our technology I think is getting better every day in terms of its accessibility," he said. 

Calgary's new Central Library features stunning architecture, but some critics point to accessibility problems in its design. (Dave Rae/CBC)


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