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February 3, 2015

Food Math

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.

Nova Scotians940,592
16% Mobility disability150,495
26.9% moderate40,483
60.6% dine out at least once a week 24,533
Annual restaurant visits1,275,703

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 disabilityLikelihood of dining out
mildProbably could go to any restaurant, though it might be a nuisance
moderateProbably can't do steps and needs some washroom amenities, but would love to dine out
severeMight go to a restaurant, but probably would rather not
very severeWouldn'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
Raised Toilet$168
Pedestal sink$151

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 mealAnnual Business IncreasePer RestaurantProvincial HST portionYears 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:

24,533 Nova Scotians with moderate mobility disabilities might represent a new customer base of 637,851 meals at the province's restaurants.  If the Province gave $7500 grants to 770 restaurants to make them accessible, it would recoup the investment through HST in 3.6 years at an average meal cost of $25.

The 770 restaurants each increase business $10,355.

Gus Reed


Helen McFadyen said...

Suggest throwing in a few more grand for alternate format menus so the 12% who can't read regular print can order a meal independantly

anne sinclair said...

This is great. Seeing numbers really helps.
I'd like to suggest taking it a 'step' further so even more people can go and code minimums are met:
-a 34 or 36" door would be good - to meet code too (32" clear)- when it's open the depth of the door itself lessens the clear opening by 1 3/4"
-add lever hardware for that door
-add some drywall to move a wall to create room for turning space, and electrical for occupant sensor light
-and grab bars + blocking
-sounds self-serving, but a few hours of an experienced designer's time can solve a lot and save $'s.

I realize this may put the costs too high and deter some - but I don't think anyone should be compromised.

How about interest-free loans from province?

I'm curious about the MLA office renos as the work is similar - has anyone tallied the average costs?

Gus Reed said...

Actually, a 36" door is cheaper - $107.10. I thin the miscellaneous pieces are well covered in the total, but maybe saying labour and plumber are $750 each and hardware is $500 is clearer. It would be great to have 3 budgets:
Low - Press Gang
Medium - Wooden Monkey
High - Epicurious Morsels (including a washroom)
Can I interest you in doing that or something similar?