As city delays bringing forward plan to implement new accessibility symbol on its buildings, advocates find private places for change

6:59 p.m., March 21, 2018. The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery has put the Dynamic Symbol of Access on their front door. This is an example of a place where the updated symbol can be used without contravening the Ontario Building Code.
6:59 p.m., March 21, 2018. The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery has put the Dynamic Symbol of Access on their front door. This is an example of a place where the updated symbol can be used without contravening the Ontario Building Code.

March 21, 2018

By Arianne Robinson

A decision this week at the mayor’s Executive Committee reveals that the plan for how the City of Toronto will implement the Dynamic Symbol of Access on city-owned buildings will not be discussed until 2019.

The report that the decision was based on says city staff are hindered by the authority of the Ontario Building Code and the Highway Traffic Act and they require additional stakeholder engagement.

When asked on Wednesday about the news that an implementation plan will not be available until 2019, Dylan Itzikowitz, co-founder of The Forward Movement, said as the city figures out how to implement a plan for city-owned buildings and parks, his organization will continue to work with the private sector.

“Toronto doing it obviously helps accelerate our goal. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t still get private organizations to do it. So, just because the city’s not going to do it on the city-owned buildings doesn’t mean we’re not going to continue to get organizations and private companies to start using symbols.”

One of those private companies is the parking lot property manager Impark, which announced last month a partnership with The Forward Movement.

The City of Toronto’s municipal code outlines outstanding committee business and does not guarantee report requests will carry over to the next term.

However, Don Peat, director of communications for Mayor John Tory, says the mayor is looking forward to seeing a “full implementation plan” from staff in the first quarter of 2019.

“Rather than implementing the symbol in a piecemeal fashion, the Mayor wants to see a comprehensive strategy for implementation that recognizes there are many stakeholders involved including Parks, Long Term Care, Water, Transportation and Parking,” Peat said via email.

Itzikowitz wants to see the City of Toronto more active in the role of change.

“We would want [the city] to start using the dynamic symbol where they can, in order to make the comprehensive change happen. Because the more people and organizations and cities [that] start using the symbol where they can, the faster the provincial government will make the change.

“We’re a grassroots movement,” Itzikowitz says, explaining The Forward Movement wants to show people’s support for change across the province. “The legislation is behind what people want and it needs to catch up.”

What people want could still be a debate at council.

Back at January’s Executive Committee, Councillor David Shiner questioned the portrayal of those who use wheelchairs.

“I understand wanting to have dynamic action – look like it’s moving – but that’s not many of the people I see in chairs,” Shiner said at the committee meeting. “If I saw my dad in his chair like that I’d think he was falling over because he’s old. So I don’t know really how to deal with this. I understand both perspectives, but you have an international symbol, which is what the one is on the door. Now we’re asked to change that.”  

Asked if the mayor is concerned about confusion over the meaning of the symbol, Peat said via email: “The Dynamic Symbol of Access is widely accepted by accessibility advocates, promotes physical and social inclusion for people of all abilities and does not look much different than the standard symbol.”

 

Related stories:
Moving forward: Accessibility icon set to change in Toronto (Jan. 24, 2018) 
Activist group brings the active Accessible Icon “brand” to committee at city hall (Dec. 4, 2017)

6:58 p.m., March 21, 2018. The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery has put the Dynamic Symbol of Access on their front door. This is an example of a place where the updated symbol can be used without contravening the Ontario Building Code.
6:58 p.m., March 21, 2018. The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery has put the Dynamic Symbol of Access on their front door. This is an example of a place where the updated symbol can be used without contravening the Ontario Building Code.
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