Toronto, Canada Accessible Travel Overview

Toronto is a cosmopolitan centre offering culture, shopping, sports, and much to see and do. It’s Canada’s largest city, the Province of Ontario’s capital, and the fourth-largest city in North America – and apparently, a place the country can take pleasure in hating. Well, you can’t have everything!

As a native of Toronto, I wish I could extol the accessibility of our bustling city. However, one of the world’s most multicultural cities has not done the best to embrace people with disabilities by providing first-rate access. (I am jealous of the ADA in the USA!) Our politicians talk more than act. Businesses and the public sector are slow to get on board. They often have to be forced. Despite this, considerable progress has been made in the last few decades, and things will continue to improve thanks in large part to the considerable efforts of disability advocates and organizations. In many ways access will be better for tourists than locals. I believe there is a very enjoyable vacation awaiting many travellers who use wheelchairs. Your perspective of course will depend upon your experiences, expectations and needs.

As Toronto doesn’t have a single website that provides detailed information about accessibility in the city, I hope that my reviews will help make your trip more enjoyable and easier. However, I realize it is incomplete and offers only one perspective. Natives and those who have travelled to Toronto are invited to fill in details I’ve missed.

Below are my summaries that link to more detailed reviews:

Transportation: Weak.
Slowly getting better. Downtown is more manageable, and more accessible cabs should start hitting the street in the summer of 2014 with 100% access proposed by 2024.

Street Access: Moderate.
Pretty good during three seasons of the year. Curb cuts, not excessively hilly, and underground PATH system downtown.

Hotels: Moderate.
Some hotels offer roll-in showers, but do your research. As many major attractions and venues are downtown I recommend staying in the heart of the city. Most of my remarks are focused on the downtown core in what is a big city.

Restrooms: Good.
Plan accordingly. Seek out accessible restrooms at major attractions, malls, department stores, and government buildings. Some larger restaurants and stores have accessible facilities. American chains are a good bet, but expect that most restaurants and stores will not. Restaurant washrooms are often found downstairs. In a pinch, try hotel lobbies, McDonald’s, or other major fast food chains.

Tours: Weak.
Some options for guided walking tours.

Attractions and Sites: Very Good.
Most are accessible and many are in the downtown core.

Venues: Very Good.
There are many major venues, most are centrally located, and all major venues offer accessible seating.

Shopping: Moderate.
Reasonable offerings for most tourists in the downtown core. Downtown has many stores with level entrances or ramps, but retrofitting is not required so there are plenty that are inaccessible in the downtown and the rest of the Greater Toronto Area.

Dining: Moderate.
“The land of plenty,” but plenty aren’t accessible. It can take some planning, especially if you require an accessible washroom, but there are “good eats” to be had.

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