Accessing: Place Des Arts

Place des Arts in downtown Montreal is a public space which attracts all people of all ages. Home to the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, the Maison Symphonique concert hall and the Opéra de Montréal, the grand plaza hosts cultural events throughout the whole year, making it a significant place of gathering for Montrealers and tourists alike. 

Public places are for everyone. Yet, access is not guaranteed to all. How can we ensure that all people, regardless of disability, are able to access this space?

The Place des Arts metro station makes access to the metro station possible from throughout the city, but there is more to access than just that. It is not only important that those who choose to use the metro can actually use the station with ease, but also that once they get to their destination there is adequate infrastructure to accommodate everyone, no matter their disability.

In our accessibility audit, we found that Place des Arts métro has major accessibility obstacles to passengers with reduced mobility, people in wheelchairs, and parents with strollers. Although the STM has stated they want to install elevators in the station to improve accessibility, the elevators will not be installed until spring 2022, and ongoing work at the station already causes accessibility obstacles for passengers.

Use this poster to help coordinate your trips to Place des Arts.

There are also some design oddities at Place des Arts to be aware about, especially for ramp users. The entire plaza, due to Montreal’s topography, is located on a hill, meaning that elevation changes are required in order to access Place des Arts in its entirety. There are two outdoor ramps which give access to Place des Arts. The first one is near the metro station entrance, on Jeanne-Mance Street and Boulevard de Maisonneuve. The other is steeper and is located on Boulevard de Maisonneuve between the Opéra and the Maison Symphonique concert hall. 

Entrance ramp to Place des Arts from Boulevard de Maisonneuve.

It gets weird once you are on the upper level of the plaza, a wide open space with views of the skyline and the typical Mont Royal backdrop. Across from where the second Boulevard de Maisonneuve ramp ends, there is another ramp next to some stairs. Around the corner, the ramp continues, then brutally ends at the top of three flights of stairs.

A ramp next to a staircase gives an impression of accessible path...
... just to end abruptly just around the corner.

This architectural inconsistency is not just bizarre, it increases the difficulty of access by creating dead-ends and confusing paths within public space. This kind of obstacle is also common in Montréal’s metro stations. They are not highly complex, but highly confusing and bizarre. Our goal at 4 Days 4 Lines is to illuminate these oddities and try to think of solutions to them that work in the immediate short-term but can also last in the long-term as a collective insurance for our cities.

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