Patty Osborne's Blog

Adventures Underground

Patty Osborne

To get into Cinéma du Parc in Montreal if you're in a wheelchair, you have to enter through a building a block away where a security guard will show you to an elevator going down.

When you get out of the elevator you have to wheel through a concrete hallway toward the lighted mall, turn right and wheel to the food fair, where you'll find the theatre on your left, just three short flights down.

Unless you've brought along an able-bodied friend, at this point you'll have to get someone from the mall to go down the stairs to the theatre, buy your ticket and get a key to the service elevator so you can get down to theatre level.

The night I attended with my friends (one in a wheelchair), two of us waited in line for tickets and the key. The ticket person told us to go back to the food fair and go through a service door to get to an elevator that will take us to level C, and then we would see a sign for the theatre. We wandered around level C for a while and encountered a woman in her bathrobe doing her laundry, an ominous door with a freezer outside, and the door to the health club, but no theatre entrance.

Back at the food fair, we asked a cleaner how to get to the theatre and he told us to go to level "D" and when the elevator door opened at level "D," we could see, on the wall opposite, "Cinema du Parc" in a handwritten scrawl with an arrow below it that pointed left. A more official sign with an arrow was propped against the wall at floor level. The theatre is at the end of a dark and scary tunnel that made me think of the Jack Nicholson movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Good thing the movie started late as ticket sales begin only 15 minutes before showtime and we needed more time than that to complete our mission.

Cinema du Park is part of La Cité, a large residential/commercial development that was designed to offer everything you need to sustain life without having to go outside. Hmmm.

Montreal in summer is at its most accessible because so many of its restaurants have outside patios. These begin to close up in late fall until, by winter, there are few places where a person in a wheelchair can enter. Many stores are inaccessible all year round and when I'm walking with my wheelchair buddy I spend a lot of time looking at places where a simple ramp could replace the one step that prohibits wheelchair entry.

At the moment there doesn't seem to be much awareness of the problem or any will to change things in Montreal. If it was a US city, the many disabled vets would have made accessibility a larger issue, but maybe we can do this without going to war.



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