The Air Canada Centre is the largest concert and sporting event arena in Ontario. I am here today to inform you all of the lack of accessibility they provide for persons with disabilities. First, I am going to tell you a little bit of background about my story before I ask you to sign this petition for change.
A few months ago, my favourite artist Justin Bieber, announced that he would be embarking on his third world tour entitled "The Purpose World Tour". The tickets sold out fast. However, my mother's lawyer Fabio Longo, was able to get us two meet and greet packages for both my mother and I. Sounds great, right? The problem starts here.
The Air Canada Centre turned around and told us that they do not allow wheelchairs to sit on the floor for safety reasons, after promising us accommodation upon purchase. Therefore, we would have to go back and purchase two wheelchair accessible tickets in order for me to see the show. The problem now was that they sold out due to the very limited nature of wheelchair accessible sections in the venue. Out of a 20,000 seat venue, the Air Canada Centre only has four wheelchair sections. Altogether, one given show can only hold a limited number of wheelchairs due to the space provided. However, that is not the most pressing problem I'm here to talk about, at least they are attempting to provide adequate seating. My problem is how can you call yourself an "accessible venue" when the backstage is not accessible. Quite frankly, it's discrimination. You are providing an opportunity for meet and greets to people who can walk, excluding those with disabilities.
The Air Canada Centre has some real accessibility issues, they need to think about the way they accommodate those with disabilities. They need to make the meet and greet room accessible, and all aspects of their venue, not just the concert area itself. We paid to meet him, and I'm being denied a service. There should be a way the Air Canada Centre can accommodate those with physical limitations by providing alternate meet ups. The accessibility does not have to be perfect, but at least offer access to backstage when needed, and as paid for.
Now, let's think about the legal aspect of this situation. According to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), which was established in 2005, “barrier” means anything that prevents a person with a disability from fully participating in all aspects of society because of his or her disability, including a physical barrier, an architectural barrier, an information or communications barrier, an attitudinal barrier, a technological barrier, a policy or a practice; (“obstacle”)
This Act enforces that barriers should be eliminated as best as they can, in any of the given situations above. In the case of the Air Canada Centre, we are presented with an architectural barrier as my wheelchair is not able to get into the meet and greet room, due to the structure of the venue. As a business, and under this Act, they are obligated to work towards finding a common ground to eliminate barriers. Thank you for reading my story today. This is a step towards fighting accessibility barriers in Ontario.