For our third edition of Central Talks at The Bentway, we again went inside to the Fort York Visitors Centre due to rainy weather and had an intimate discussion about Toronto's barriers to social justice.
Of course, this is a topic which has a multitude of angles and perspectives. We can only hope to cover a sliver spectrum of issues could be encompassed. With that in mind, three angles were chosen to be highlighted on Oct. 2.
Accessibility standards have brought many widely used innovations to both public and private space. The most visible for most people could be the curb cut, the ramp that drops from the sidewalk to the street level, allowing people with mobility devices to move across roads at intersections.
While these cuts are undoubtedly useful to people who use wheels to get around the street, the ramps are now used by almost everyone at intersections. Jennifer called this the curb-cut effect, where an innovation designed to be inclusive is adopted by pretty much everyone -- not just the people it was designed to specifically accommodate.
More examples include voice recognition software, closed captions on TV, and large-grip kitchen utensils.
Learn more about Jennifer's mission at Human Space.
Nicole brought her experience in public consultation to teach a few lessons about the impact that people can have on the design of their communities and even on the larger city.
Focusing on the Toronto Eastern Waterfront known as the Portlands, Nicole brought us back to the consultations that happened in 2000 and the resulting community that was designed and will be constructed in the coming years. Thanks to the community consultation, the Portlands will have more residential areas and parks.
Much of the discussion with attendees focused on WHO is consulted and in what way. Nicole acknowledged that more should be done to bring in people who might not otherwise be part of the design process, which is regularly attended by more affluent and older home-owners.
What if public transit was free for everyone? Free Transit Toronto is an organization dedicated to finding out.
Taraneh explored both the results and what needs to be done to get there during her presentation. Though public transit in Toronto is currently funded largely through fares, placing the emphasis back on progressive taxes could have a massive impact on who uses transit and how.
Interestingly, Toronto has already made some moves in this direction, like making transit free for kids under 12. Taraneh suggested increasing this arbitrary age limit to include students until they are done high school.
Along with increasing ridership and decreasing pollution, free transit could completely eliminate costly and troublesome byproducts of fare enforcement such as a fare enforcement officers and the Presto system.