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August 8, 2018

Sir Guy Carleton

Most of the comment on my last post, about the Carleton, took place on Parker Donham's Facebook page.  From the comments I am told:

  • The Carleton owners and patrons describe it as progressive.
  • The patio to the south side of the entrance is barrier-free.
  • Some think I should have approached the owner first.
Just to reiterate:
  • There is a standard required of sidewalk cafes - by-law S-1000
  • The Carleton doesn't meet that standard
  • Taxpayers just spent $6.3 million on streetscaping
  • This happens so often in Halifax that there's hardly time to contact the owner
    • Chickenburger
    • Mother's Pizza
    • Constituency Offices
    • Man Bean
    • A long list, centering squarely on the lassitude of building inspectors, the complicity of the CAO, the lip service of owners and the complete surrender of Council.
  • I forgot to mention that I am absolutely certain that the Carleton employs no wheelchair users in food service, food preparation, bartending, hospitality, management, or accounting.  I long to be proven wrong.
The argument about the half-accessible patio just doesn't cut it.  It smacks of separate-but-equal.  It has the very same effect as Viola in the balcony and is just as offensive.  Progressives should recognize that.

The ramp onto the stage and the accessible washroom are good things.  Why not complete the picture by obeying the by-law and solving the problem of the front steps?  Re-think the north patio.  Make an attractive ramp.  Wheelchairs can't use steps, but ambulatory folks can use ramps.  A miracle of Universal Design!  There's plenty of room.

That way, wheelchair users having a beer on the patio can use the washroom immediately when the beer has its diuretic effect, rather than having a urinary crisis while waiting for the portable ramp.

Here is the commentary from Parker's Facebook page.  I haven't heard from Ms. Spaulding, though I hear the brunch is good:
Cyril McDonald grandfather clauses win out

Andree Crepeau This is so sad, and so short sighted.

Marsha Carnat It's bs
And I call it !!!


Tony Foggoa Paid off to look the other way maybe

Parker Donham I think there is a disconnect between Mayor and Council on the one hand, and the administration on the other. Mayor and Council make high-minded statements supporting accessibility, but the CAO hasn't lifted a finger to implement them. So building inspectors, who have probably never had training in accessibility standards, interpret the rules very conservatively, and no one tells them to do otherwise.

Peter Baylis It is accessible but, go ahead and give a business that was on the brink of closure a bum rap cause that helps... right?? Do some more research .... half the deck is... and it’s one of the most progressive clubs out there with a dynamic ramp and washrooms that were designed for accessibility 
You want to discredit this awesome live music venue!!


Karen Spaulding Thanks for accepting my friend request, Parker. As owner of The Carleton, I was obviously taken aback by your article and wanted to clarify this distressing report wherever there was a post. The starting point is our full support for your advocacy for accessibility. PATIO: The south side of our patio (with flat Argyle St pavers) is immediately accessible by wheelchair - photo attached. The north side has a riser - you are correct - because the Argyle St pavers slope down towards Prince Street at such a steep angle that it was impossible to build evenly and still adhere to city requirements for visibility around the Argyle/Prince corner. We worked thru several plans with the city to come up with this compromise. BUILDING: We have a portable ramp available to place over the steps for interior access. RESTROOM: We introduced gender neutral private washrooms including one with full wheelchair access. I would welcome your input on how we can continue to improve access. Feel free to reach me directly at karen@thecarleton.ca (note new address). Best, KarenManage

Parker Donham Karen, Thank you for your willingness to engage in response to my criticism. It's discouraging to hear that, once again, CBRM code inspectors are putting obstacles in the way of accessibility. It seems that whenever accessibility requirements clash with any other city rule or prerogative, accessibility is sacrificed. Since I reposted Warren Reed's observations about the Carleton deck, I forwarded your comment to him. Here is his response: 

Dear Ms. Spaulding,

I am the person who posted about the patio at the Carleton. As a wheelchair user I am very hard to please on matters of accessibility, especially given that HRM Patio By-Law S1000 says sidewalk cafés shall comply with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Accessible Design for the Built Environment, CSA Standard B651, as amended from time to time, which yours, I'm sorry to say, does not. It seems that I have traded my share in a public sidewalk for a private space from which I am excluded.

I'd add that as a taxpayer with a considerable investment in your new neighborhood it irks me that, wherever the fault lies, no one has taken the trouble to obey the law. You are entirely welcome to my generous support, but I am entitled to more respect than you have given me and the many people like me.

Frankly, I find it hard to believe your assertion that the slope toward Prince Street is what has prevented making the North patio accessible. Interior ramps, switchbacks, feathered edges - there are a hundred solutions. You simply haven't had good advice. A creative design could solve a variety of accessibility problems - it's an opportunity.

In the end, I'm not quite sure how you can be comfortable with separate and unequal treatment of some of your fellow Haligonians. Is there a whites only section? A men's bar? A separate door for LGBTQ folk?

I take you at your word that you support accessibility as a principle, but I wonder if you understand that it is my right and your responsibility. Without that, you risk drifting off into the land of happy talk so frequently encountered. 

I would be happy to meet with you to talk about ways to make the North patio accessible or to think about access generally.

Yours truly,

Gus Reed


Paul Vienneau Messaged you, Karen.

Paul Vienneau I have worked the venue, most recently last night and last Friday.
My problem with not talking to the venue first is they are immediately put on the defensive and made to look like pricks, when the opposite is true. 
The inside of the Carleton has been
 redone in a way that shows genuine desire to have disabled clients/performers(and they have a ramp to the stage- I can count on one hand the number of venues I have played at that have ramps for the stage). 
I’m not claiming anything is perfect, but going to the owner of the venue first, in my opinion, and offering to help them close any accessibility gaps, is much better than calling them out.
Yes, we have the right to demand things dealing with our rights. But when we’re dealing with people- and I have to keep saying in my opinion- I think we should lead with contact and offers of support.

But hey, everyone gets to do whatever they want.
Karen- if you’re looking for someone to work with, I offer my time to you at no charge.


Denise MacDonell Best sm comment I have seen in a long time, Paul. Amazing.

Paul Vienneau Denise MacDonell What is “sm”? 🙂

Denise MacDonell Paul Vienneau Haha! "Social Media"


Karen Spaulding Thank you for taking the time to share your perspective, Paul Vienneau. I will absolutely take you up on your offer. We want to improve and to set an inclusive example. Talk soon!

Paul Vienneau Karen Spaulding Brunch was awesome! Thank you for your time, Karen!