Toronto

New Hydro poles on sidewalks leave some Torontonians feeling squeezed

Construction in the city's west end has some pedestrians feeling sidelined as hydro poles are not leaving much room on sidewalks.

Older parts of Toronto may be exempt from accessibility rules, city staff say

Sidewalk clearance on Davenport Road near Ossington Avenue measures only about 90 centimetres in some parts, far less than the 1.5 metres the accessibility standards require. (Grant Linton/CBC)

Construction in the city's west end has some pedestrians feeling sidelined as hydro poles are not leaving much room on sidewalks.

Sidewalk clearance on Davenport Road near Ossington Avenue measures only about 90 centimetres in some parts, far less than the 1.5 metres the accessibility standards require. 

While some have expressed concerns about the lack of space, according to city staff, in older parts of Toronto where there may not be enough room, sidewalks with hydro poles are exempt from the rule.

Ryerson University adjunct professor Lloyd Alter says hydro poles have already made for an uncomfortable walk in the neighbourhood, but he says new poles have made it even worse.
Ryerson adjunct professor Lloyd Alter says new poles on Davenport Road near Ossington Avenue have made it even worse for pedestrians. (Grant Linton/CBC)

The lack of space makes it uncomfortable for most and may not leave enough space for those with wheelchairs or strollers, Alter says. 

"I think it is a big deal. The city should really be promoting making it comfortable and easy for people to walk, and here they're not," he told CBC Toronto. "We've always had to go single file by it, but now I don't know if someone with a wheelchair or stroller could get by it." 

Accessibility advocate and Access Now founder Maayan Ziv agrees, saying that instead of coming up with exemptions, the city should enforcing accessibility requirements — even if it means creative and more expensive solutions.

"I think it's really problematic that in 2018 we are still creating barriers that stop people like myself with disabilities and many others from navigating public space," Ziv said. "We need to think bigger, and we need to understand that accessibility is integral to every part of our life." 
Accessibility advocate and Access Now founder Maayan Ziv says the city should enforcing accessibility requirements instead of coming up with exemptions. (Grant Linton/CBC)

She says there are possible solutions.

"Maybe we can enlarge the sidewalk, make it more comfortable for people but no, they just go bang, plop in those poles, make it worse for people," she said.

The poles are likely staying put, but city staff say a crew will be sent to the area to see if anything else can be done to improve accessibility.

With files from Trevor Dunn