Updated on December 27th, 2005 - see below.
There is a brand new Toronto Public Library at 495 Sherbourne Street at the corner of Sherbourne & Wellesley. On the Wellesley St. side there is a TTC stop that buses that can carry the disabled stops. Right at the corner. Just down a few feet from that bus stop is the new Library's disabled ramp. Want to see??
This is infuriating. The City of Toronto has a very bad habit of NEVER plowing Wellesley St. E. from Bleecker St. to Sherbourne making it inaccessible to anyone disabled. We get literally stuck in the snow on it all winter long. When this new library/community centre went up we all had a collective sigh of relief thinking now the City would plow that sidewalk.
Boy were we wrong. Not only is it still ignored but now the Toronto Public Library has deemed the nice disabled ramp to it useless as far as we can tell. I have written the Mayor's office and received no reply about this. I then wrote the Toronto Public Library's and again, received no reply. It seems this really doesn't matter.
Indeed there is another entrance, off Bleecker St. and indeed it's plowed clean! However one has to travel down Bleecker St. to get to it and again, that's City property and Bleecker St. sidewalks are NOT shovelled by the City in any way, shape or form.
Now, some people may thing 'tough'... not all streets are plowed/shovelled. And they are right to a degree, however at the corner of Bleecker & Wellesley there is a huge apt. building that has over 700 units in it that is a 'designated disabled building' that the City owns!!! And up Bleecker 2 buildings there is yet another 'designated disabled' building with approx. 300+ units in it that the City owns. So, please don't tell me they don't know about the disabled in the area.
As for whether or not the Library and community centre knowing about the disabled in the area, indeed they did as well. I sat on the committee for this library/community centre from the get-go. I even requested a disabled architech, matter of fact I requested it several times because I've seen too many places that are deemed disabled accessible but once inside doors don't have buttons, doors pull towards a person, etc. but that idea was shot down. At almost every meeting I brought up accessibility. I guess it all fell on deaf ears when you look at that ramp. Oddly enough, if you look at the listing for this Library at the Toronto Public Library Site this new "St. Jamestown" Library is not listed as wheelchair accessible!! I really have to question this as well considering all the discussions at meetings that went on when planning this about it being fully accessible and the fact this is a Municipal building as well. Really boggles the mind.
Since no one answers the letters I can only guess that the disabled in the area have to wait until Spring to access the library or until we have enough warmer weather to melt what's on the sidewalks that the City doesn't clear off. A path from people walking constantly isn't wide enough to take a wheelchair or scooter.
The Toronto Public Library page has been updated and this building is now noted as wheelchair accessible. However..... yes, there is always a 'however', The disabled doors don't always work and are so slow that you literally get caught in one waiting for the other to open!
As well, none and I mean NONE of the inside doors of the community centre has a disabled automatic button on it so once inside you are still screwed basically if you can't push or pull open one of the many doors yourself. All my requests from the get-go of this project to have every door accessible went on deaf ears. Once I'm in this building I still have to wait for someone to open the doors for me to meeting rooms or whatever.
Another winter is upon us (2005) and I noticed that the ramp was not shovelled again. A few days later it was finally cleared. I guess that's a small improvement from last year. It wasn't shovelled at all last year.
Oh, and one more issue although not specifically about the Library but about the Community Centre it's in. This is an economically deprived area and when this community centre was proposed there were to be NO charges for room space for community events. Well, that idea has suddenly gone down the toilet and it seems there was some shifty, behind the doors discussions that were not made public and low and behold, as of January 1st, 2006 there are going to be large fee's tacked onto the use of any room in that community centre. This means that the people this centre was built for will not be able to use it for meetings or programs they wish to start!
FINAL UPDATE: It's now 2016 and they have finally had a year where they have actually cleaned off that walkway. Mind you this has been the warmest winter on record and barely any snow. A couple of snowstorms for the entire winter. The "fees" situation has been removed though. That's great news however trying to book a room in there is ridiculous. It's next to impossible. They force you to wait until the last minute so for a lot of events, it's too close to get everything together and coordinated. Sad. Very sad for this community.