Accessibility complaint filed against Human Rights Commission
Published Monday, August 13, 2012 11:05PM EDT
A group represented the disabled has filed a complaint against the Human Rights Commission offices management, saying the building is not adequately accessible.
Effy Louridas, who is in a wheelchair, says the entrance to the building at 360 St. James is extremely difficult to access, and there is only one access point.
“Why would we come back here? It's much more difficult for us on a wheelchair,” said Louridas.
Further, the weight limit of the elevator is 250 kilograms, while most power wheelchairs weigh 150 kilograms alone.
The elevator is also hard to operate, said Laurence Parent, a member of accessibility rights group Regroupement Activistes Pour L’Inclusion Québec (RAPLIQ).
“It is extremely difficult and I was surprised this was the first time that I was able to open the door by myself,” said Parent.
Louridas and RAPLIQ have lodged a complaint against building management, demanding better access to the entrance at the rear of the building.
At the front of the building there is no wheelchair access, something that disabled activists say needs to change.
“Able-bodied people have two exits, so we want to have two exits as well,” said RAPLIQ President Linda Gauthier.
Building manager Georges Coulombe said he was not aware that there were any complaints over accessibility.
“If they would call me, I would be very happy to look into any problems they have to access the building,” he said.
Built in 1927, the building is historically protected, therefore making it difficult to change the architecture.
Coulombe said improvements to the elevator can be made, but modifying the main entrance is a next-to-impossible task.
"We're a tenant, we're not the owner," he said.
Solving the dispute won't be easy, either, as the human rights commission is in a conflict of interest, forcing a third-party lawyer to intervene.
“We won't be able to deal with it. We will have to hire someone outside of the commission since we're part of the complaint,” said Human Rights Commission President Gaetan Cousineau.
A decision on the complaint could take up to eight months to be reached. Until then, the entrance remains unchanged.