Universal Access

Service de la culture – Quartier des spectacles – Universal access – Charter file (2015)

Since 2010, we make regular follow-ups with the managers of the Quartier des spectacles in order to improve accessibility and safety on site, for people with functional limitations.  We insist on the importance of considering this aspect at the earliest stage, before construction of the different facilities.  This file is still underway.

In 2012, the City mandated a specialized firm to conduct a Monitoring study on the universal access of the site.  Observations and analysis of the movements of people, with or without functional limitations, confirmed several problems, particularly at corners.  Some of these problems, such as pedestrian / cyclist conflicts, may affect all users.

Following this study, the City undertook the planning of corrective measures.  Some were completed but there is still much to do to improve the existing facilities.  Our office, therefore, is keeping this file active.

The pedestrian / cyclist conflicts at corners and along boulevard de Maisonneuve are of particular concern for our office.

We also want to ensure that for the “Clark Esplanade” project, which is the last phase of the Quartier des spectacles, the City will integrate the required universal access elements for all types of limitations, from the planning stage.

Arrondissement de Ville-Marie – Terraces on the public domain – Universal access – Charter file (2015)

Since the spring of 2013, we regularly intervene to improve the universal access of terraces located in two key areas of Arrondissement de Ville-Marie, namely Old-Montréal (Place Jacques-Cartier and Saint-Paul Street) and the pedestrian section of Sainte-Catherine Street in the Village (between Saint-Hubert Street and Papineau Avenue).

Many terraces do not meet the universal access standards:  lack of an access ramp or impracticable ramp; insufficient clearance to allow the movement of people with disabilities; etc.

The Borough gradually improved its approach and intensified its follow-ups.  These efforts provided results.  During the summer of 2015, we noted marked improvements.

Our office will pursue its follow-ups and pay particular attention to the Saint-Paul Street reconstruction project and to the revamping of Place Jacques-Cartier.  We want to make sure that the new facilities located on the public domain, namely terraces, respect the universal access standards and good practices.

Parking space reserved for handicapped people – Choice of location (2011)

A citizen complained about the fact that a parking space reserved for a handicapped person was set up in front of her residence: this would be prejudicial to her business located on the ground floor. She requested that this parking space be moved in front of the residence of the handicapped person who requested this parking space.

The mechanism used by the neighbour to gain access to his vehicle with his wheelchair is located behind the said vehicle: a clearance zone of at least 2 meters is therefore required, for the deployment of the system and the wheelchair access.

If the reserved parking space was in front of this neighbour’s residence, it would be necessary to encroach on a second parking space to offer the required clearance. As for the chosen location, in front of the plaintiff’s residence, it is at the end of the street: therefore, there is enough space behind it, without having to encroach on a second parking space.

Considering the scarceness of street parking spaces for all citizens, Arrondissement de Rosemont-La Petite Patrie’s decision, that limit the impact of this set-up to only one parking space, seems justified.

Universal access in Quartier des Spectacles (2010)

Since the end of 2010, our office has closely followed the measures underway to resolve various universal access and safety problems affecting disabled people in the new Quartier des spectacles. Since our initial intervention, managers in charge and groups representing different types of disabled people have intensified their discussions, the whole in accordance with the Politique municipale d’accessibilité universelle in which Ville de Montréal committed to promote an active partnership with community organizations.


In 2012, a specialized firm was appointed to study the movements of people with or without functional limitations, in this area. This study was conducted over a period of seven (7) months and included a survey of people with functional limitations.


The study confirmed the presence of universal access and safety problems in this area, particularly at road intersections. Different corrective measures were put forward: some were implemented in 2013 and others should be in 2014.


We will continue to follow up on this file to ensure that safety problems are resolved and that all realistic and reasonable solutions are implemented so as to improve universal access to the site, in conformity with the Politique municipale d’accessibilité universelle and with section 28 f) of the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities.

Grab rails – Bathroom adapted for the handicapped – Ville de Montréal City Hall (2010)

In February 2010, the OMBUDSMAN DE MONTRÉAL requested from the Présidence du Conseil de la Ville, which is responsible for managing the City Hall, that it installs grab rails in the adapted bathroom located on the ground floor of the building. This request followed the recent installation by our office, in early 2010, of an automated door opening system which provides persons with reduced mobility an easy access to this bathroom.

A major project for the upgrading of the City Hall ground floor already provides for modifications to this bathroom, to improve its accessibility. When these changes will be actually completed, however, remain unknown and in our opinion, the installation of grab rails should not wait.

After many follow-up calls, over a few months, these rails were finally installed: as a result, the manoeuvers of handicapped people using this bathroom have become easier and safer.

Universal access to Montréal’s City Hall (2009)

Ville de Montréal takes to heart the universal accessibility to its buildings. In spite of all the efforts displayed, nonetheless, the Ombudsman de Montréal noticed improvements that were required in order to ensure adequate access to the City Hall, for users with reduced mobility.

Adequate signs

Three entrance doors are frequently used by citizens to access City Hall: one on Gosford Street, another, the main one, on Notre-Dame Street and a third, on Place Vauquelin. It is on this last door that a wheelchair access ramp and an automated door opening system are currently installed.

Yet, when a person in a wheelchair came to either of the other two entrance doors that are not wheelchair accessible, they found no indication whatsoever pointing towards the adapted entrance located on Place Vauquelin. At the request of the Ombudsman de Montréal, signs have been installed in this regard, all around the building.

Adapted entrance available at City Hall, regardless of construction work

We also noticed that the adapted entrance on Place Vauquelin was sometimes blocked for long periods of time, by contractors doing repair work on the building.

The Ombudsman de Montréal intervened again and she obtained an undertaking that, in spite of construction work that can occur at City Hall, contractors will be required to keep an adapted entrance accessible for wheelchairs at all times and, if the need arises, to install temporary signs informing citizens of the new location of a temporary adapted entrance.

Information on the Web

Before leaving home, citizens with reduced mobility will often search, on the City’s Web site, the location of the adapted access for people in wheelchairs: unfortunately, this information was not easy to find.

At our request, this information is now more accessible: it can be found in the Sherlock files posted on the City’s Web site and also under the “Accès Simple” heading. We also added this information on the Ombudsman de Montréal‘s Web site, under the heading “Contact” .

Adapted bathroom for handicapped people – Ground floor of City Hall – Automated door opening system

Some handicapped persons using the adapted bathroom located on the ground floor of City Hall had complained that this bathroom was difficult for them to use because, namely, of its heavy wooden door. These people often needed to ask for the help of a passerby so as to open the door for them when they enter and exit the bathroom.

Our investigation showed that the City planned to eventually improve accessibility in this bathroom, but only when it would renovate/upgrade the building, in the coming years: the improvement project, however, did not include the installation of an automated door opening system for this bathroom.

This is the only bathroom adapted for handicapped persons at City Hall and, therefore, this long delay, as well as the nature of the changes that were planned, did not seem sufficient to us. The Ombudsman de Montréal, therefore, ordered and paid with her own operating budget, an automated door opening system.

Protection of patrimony and safety – Municipal pool (2008)

A citizen was complaining that the installations of an indoor municipal pool were not adequate for elderly people. This pool is located in a patrimonial building built in the ‘30s.

This pool is not equipped with conventional ladders with handles to enter and exit the water, but rather with steps built in the pool’s ceramic walls, on the side of which poles with handles are anchored to the top side of the pool. A special lift is also available at this pool which the employees can use, when needed, to enter or exit people in/out of the pool.

Our investigation showed that the building where the pool is located had recently undergone major renovations during which Arrondissement Le Plateau-Mont-Royal had taken particular care to protect its patrimonial characteristics.

After serious analysis, the Ombudsman de Montréal concluded that the current installations offer adequate access to swimmers, including elderly people or those with reduced mobility, all the while protecting the patrimonial aspect of the building and that the borough had not acted in an arbitrary, unreasonable or discriminatory manner by refusing to install a more traditional ladder, in this pool. It should be noted, moreover, that the narrowness of the basin would have posed serious obstacles to the installation of such a ladder.

Opening of a register – Access for handicapped persons (2007)

Citizens complained that the premises chosen by Arrondissement de Rivière-des-Prairies – Pointe-aux-Trembles for the opening of a register on a project requiring zoning change, was not accessible to people in wheelchairs and, as a result, that these citizens could not exercise their right to sign the said register if they wished to do so.

We contacted the borough director who immediately accepted our suggestion to set up a special area, on the first floor of the building, where people with reduced mobility could sign the register. This was certainly not an ideal set-up but, nevertheless, it allowed the concerned citizens to exercise their democratic right.

In 2008, our office identified new accessibility problems with regard to this place and, therefore, we submitted further requests to the borough.

The elevator in this building was now functional and accessible for wheelchairs but only through an entrance located at the back of the building: there was no indication at the main entrance of the building, however, to inform people in wheelchairs that such access was available and how to get there. Following our intervention, two signs were installed, one on the main entrance door and another, on the side of the building.

During a winter visit, we also noted that the path leading to the back of the building was not adequately cleared from the snow. At our request, the borough intervened with the owners of the building and required that more specific attention be paid to snow removal, on this path.

Although this borough office is a temporary one, it will be used until the end of 2009. It was, therefore, important for us that, as long as the borough office is located there, these premises be adequatly accessible to all, including people with reduced mobility.