Will accessibility become a reality under projet Montréal?

Montreal

Political observers will have seen Projet Montréal ease into a second election victory. As the Montreal Gazette highlights, the progressive party has seen their control of the city rise with 3 more borough seats. A big part of their election drive was an all-encompassing plan to fully renovate Montreal to become fully accessible to disabled people. Critics noted that the group has already had four years to implement changes, yet the news has nevertheless been met with excitement. A look at what is really needed for a city to be accessibility-friendly is a good place to start when looking at Montreal’s progress thus far.

An accessible society

Accessibility is not just about simple adaptations. While making the adjustments to help people into the buildings and services they need is essential, a properly accessible society and city helps to cater for people from the start of life. Considering the developmental needs of children is an effective way to approach this issue. Cerebral palsy advocate group CPFN (https://cpfamilynetwork.org/) notes that while children diagnosed with the condition will obviously benefit from physical therapy, there can be enormous life-long benefits from the simple matter of being able to access society and get involved on a daily basis. Those emotional benefits last a long time, and adaptations don’t have to be expensive, either; take the hugely popular mat used in Quebec area beaches, as highlighted by CBC.

Scale of the challenge

Montreal is making a genuine effort to improve conditions for those living with disabilities and this is clear from numerous recent attempts at adaptation. Unfortunately, as CTV News outlines, there are also countless incidences of ‘failed’ adaptation, such as ridges put into the sidewalk for the purposes of aesthetic improvement. While these attempts are positive for disabled people, they also show a lack of buy-in. Adaptations and improvements seem to be made in a way that is done without consultation. This could be set to change, however.

Total overhaul

This challenge is not lost on city authorities. Inclusive City Makers highlights city figures that show over 500,000 Montreal citizens have a disability, yet 73% of metro stations are inaccessible. A new plan was put in place to strengthen protections for people with accessibility requirements across the Metro estate and its surrounds. Changing this core part of the city will improve the experience of many people living with disability, but it needs to be done with a cross-section of society in mind. That means accessibility in the form of help for those with sensory disabilities, for instance, like tactile footpaths, braille and clearly defined audio cues in and around station platforms.

The necessary changes are huge in scale, but they are a moral imperative. Projet have promised big with their plan, and it’s a progressive one that will see disabled Montreal citizens benefit. The hope is that now, with the city back on its feet and working again, the plan can be implemented to the benefit of all.

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