My friend Contrarian challenged me to get serious about the economics of accessibility.
I'm just a wheelchair user, so I tend to think about accessibility in terms of ramps and washrooms. Let's make some informed estimates.
I like restaurants, but many are in inaccessible buildings. They've been restaurants for a long time, so under the provincial building code, they're grandfathered as to inaccessibility. What would it cost to make them accessible, would there be any benefits and what would be a good way to make it happen? Here are some numbers:
According to Restaurants Canada, 60.6% of Canadians eat at a restaurant once a week or more.
The population of Nova Scotia is 940,592
The Disabled Persons Commission says 16% of Nova Scotians have a mobility disability (2006 data)
and 26.9% of disabilities are moderate.
|16% Mobility disability||150,495|
|60.6% dine out at least once a week||24,533|
|Annual restaurant visits||1,275,703|
The subjective variable here is severity of disability. I can't find a good description, but here's my interpretation of the StatsCan categories:
|Severity of disability||Likelihood of dining out|
|mild||Probably could go to any restaurant, though it might be a nuisance|
|moderate||Probably can't do steps and needs some washroom amenities, but would love to dine out|
|severe||Might go to a restaurant, but probably would rather not|
|very severe||Wouldn't go|
This is indisputably correct: According to Statistics Canada and Restaurants Canada the potential for dining out among those with moderate mobility disabilities is 1,275,703 meals per year. I can personally testify that some of that demand is already being met, though none of it at inaccessible restaurants. Let's say half of those meals don't happen presently, leaving a new business potential of 637,851 meals.
Hold that thought. Now let's turn our attention to restaurants.
According to Statistics Canada there are 1540 full-service restaurants and limited-service eating places in Nova Scotia as of January 2015.
Some of them will need extensive renovations to become accessible. Some already are accessible. Others, like Hali-Deli just got a free portable ramp. Some have a useful washroom, some have no washroom at all. Here's a table to help think about it:
|Cost to make accessible|
|Proportion of restaurants||# of restaurants||$500||$2,500||$5,000||$7,500||$10,000||$15,000|
If all 1540 restaurants had to spend $15,000 to become accessible, it would cost $23,100,000. My estimate is that about half of restaurants are inaccessible, and that $7500 would go a long way towards fixing the problem. Here are my figures:
|16 foot aluminum ramp||$2,687|
|32" prehung door||$189|
The ramp is very nice and comes ready-to-assemble - meets code. Covers 2 steps. Fixtures are Home Depot prices. Labour is extremely generous, probably way too much. This assumes the restaurant already has a bathroom, at least 2X2 meters, that needs renovating.
So a $7,500 upgrade of 770 restaurants would cost $5,775,000.
Suppose the Province made a grant for the renovation. What's the payback? Well, It depends on the price of a meal:
|Cost of a meal||Annual Business Increase||Per Restaurant||Provincial HST portion||Years to recoup $7500 grant to 50% of restaurants|
My favorite meal on the planet is clams & chips and a chocolate shake at John's Lunch in Dartmouth, which runs $23.23 tax included. Let's take $25 for an average price - I think $30 is more realistic but $25 will do.
So here's the bottom line:
The 770 restaurants each increase business $10,355.