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About the Design of Public Spaces Standard

Accessible public spaces make it easier for people with disabilities to move through and use the environment.

The requirements of the standard are divided into seven sections:

  • Recreational trails and beach access routes
  • Outdoor public use eating areas, like those found at rest stops or picnic grounds
  • Outdoor play spaces
  • Exterior paths of travel (sidewalks or walkways) and their associated elements, such as ramps, stairs, curb ramps, rest areas and accessible pedestrian signals
  • Accessible off-street and on-street parking spaces
  • Obtaining services (service counters, fixed queuing guides and waiting areas)
  • Maintenance planning

The scope of the requirements

The standard requires organizations to incorporate accessibility when:

  • Building new public spaces, or
  • Making planned significant alterations to existing public spaces.

Organizations are not required to retrofit public spaces to meet the requirements. This means that organizations are not required to alter their public spaces if they have no plans to do so.

Accessibility for elements related to buildings, for example, building entrances, washrooms and barrier-free paths of travel, are not addressed in this standard. They are addressed through Ontario’s Building Code.

Public pedestrian trails that are intended for recreational and leisure purposes.
Routes that are constructed and are intended for pedestrian use by the public and that provide access from off-street parking facilities, recreational trails, exterior paths of travel and amenities to an area of a beach that is intended for recreational use by the public.
A paved walkway along the side of a road, to be used by pedestrians.
A constructed route for pedestrians in outdoor public spaces that may connect buildings or amenities.
A constructed sloped surface (not in or connected to a building) that helps a person move from one level to another
A series of steps (not in or connected to a building) that lead from one level to another. Stairs should be located directly beside the exterior path of travel.
A slope that cuts through a curb, or is built up to a curb.
In respect of recreational trails and exterior paths of travel, a dedicated level area that is intended for public use to allow persons to stop or sit.
Crossing devices that tell a pedestrian when it is safe to cross the street in a non-visual format (for example, through the use of sound or vibration).
Includes parking spaces located on highways, as defined in subsection 1(1) of the Highway Traffic Act, that provide direct access to shops, offices and other facilities whether or not the payment of a fee is charged.
Includes open area parking lots and structures intended for the temporary parking of vehicles by the public, whether or not the payment of a fee is charged and includes visitor parking spaces in parking facilities.
Activities that are intended to keep existing public spaces and elements in existing public spaces in good working order or to restore the spaces or elements to their original condition, examples of which include painting and minor repairs.
The organization must determine what is a planned significant alteration in the context of the redevelopment of the public space. It does not include maintenance activities such as repairs, environmental mitigation or environmental restoration.