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January 7, 2014

Eat More Pizza!

In late August I noticed that a new building at the corner of Agricola and Young sported an accessible entrance that didn't look right.   So I took a picture, did a little research and sent a note to Community and Recreation Services, which enforces the building code:
Dear Mr. Anguish, 
We corresponded last year about the ramp at Chickenburger.  I noticed a new and attractive building at the corner of Agricola and Young, soon to be Mother's Pizza.  The main entrance, up several steps, is naturally offensive to wheelchair users.  Comparing it to the pictures of Tanner Supply, which was in that spot and had just one step up, I wonder why wheelchair users are subjected to the indignity of having a separate entrance.  The architect seems to have taken some trouble to make the main entrance unusable by wheelchairs, which is counter to good principles of design.   
That aside, I see the accessible entrance along Agricola has a ramp and a power door button.  Picture attached.  The ramp looks steep and has a tricky cross-slope as well.  But clearly there is no level landing at the door as required in 1(c) and (12) of the Building Code Regulations.  So a wheelchair user cannot use the button without letting go of her wheel, thus accelerating backwards down the ramp.  A dangerous oversight. 
This seems a poor arrangement indeed, and I trust the pizza establishment would not be permitted to open until the situation is remedied.  The larger issue is, of course, how this can happen under the watchful eye of Community and Recreation Services.
I look forward to hearing from you.
 And Mr. Anguish informatively replied:
Mr. Reed,

Many thanks for your feedback. I have followed up with staff and can confirm that an occupancy permit has not yet been issued for this location. The owner/operator has been advised that the barrier free access is not in compliance and that it requires modification prior to opening the restaurant to the public. Staff will continue to monitor progress.

Kind regards, 
Brad Anguish, PEng, PMP, MBA, CD
Director, Community & Recreation Services
Halifax Regional Municipality902-490-4933
So I was puzzled and dismayed to see Mother's Pizza opening on Labor Day without having remedied the accessibility problem.  Mr. Anguish reassured me:
Dear Mr. Reed,

Thanks again for your correspondence. I can confirm that no permits have been issued. The subject property remains out of compliance. An Order was issued to the Owner upon opening and staff continues to undertake all necessary compliance actions.
Soon after, on September 24, an Information was laid by HRM charging that Mother`s Pizza was conducting business without a permit.
Click for original

Trial date: January 7. Wait, that`s today! We learn from Joshua Judah. Solicitor at Halifax Regional Municipality that Mother himself, Tyson Wachter, plead guilty and was fined $5000. Although we don`t take delight in the misfortune of others, we hope this represents a new determination on the part of HRM and an important lesson for architects and developers.

Gus Reed

PS Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Jim Vance said...

If you put the law on the books - and seek/get credit for doing so, then enforce the requirements of the law. Glad to see it happened here.

anne sinclair said...

Thanks for this update - it is great that you took action, and that HRM followed up.
What will happen next? Will the owner be made to comply?
The fact that this poor design happened in a new building shows the lack of education of some architects - something I'm trying to improve at the Dal Faculty of Architecture.

Stew said...

Bravo Gus! I'll be pointing my colleagues toward this blog post as a case study.

Stewart MacMillan