Building upon the shared goal of realizing a more accessible Hart House for all students, the UTSU generously supported the construction of a comprehensive universal washroom at Hart House. The House is grateful to UTSU for their support and for being champions for students with accessibility needs.
Hart House is a leader in illustrating how heritage buildings can be champions of accessibility. There are many examples of this, including the installation of a ramp at the front of the building in 2021, and a fully renovated, accessible Arbor Room.
A universal washroom is much more than an accessible washroom stall. A universal washroom aims to support any person’s needs, including people with attendants or requiring support.
In winter of 2019, student leaders from the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) approached Hart House, asking to partner around enhancing the St. George campus' accessibility. Over the course of several discussions, the House and UTSU agreed to collaborate and create a new universal washroom on the lower level of Hart House.
This universal washroom at Hart House is one of the most accessible washrooms on campus. It affords critical dignity to people who often struggle in less accommodating washrooms.
“Thank you to UTSU. Through this donation, this Union is demonstrating, once again, their commitment to ensuring that the comprehensive U of T experience ‒ which Hart House symbolizes ‒ is available to all,” says Peter Wambera, Associate Director of Advancement.
“For Hart House, this washroom, right next to the recently renovated Arbor Room, was an excellent opportunity to fast-track our desire to invest in our washroom spaces and, in particular, to create a truly universal washroom,” he adds.
“This gift supports one of the key tenets of the UTSU: to make campus more accessible for all. UTSU shares Hart House’s vision of a campus that is universally accessible and fully integrated into the social, cultural, intellectual and environmental life of the University and the city,” says UTSU President, Omar Gharbiyeh.
Hart House Partnered with Rick Hansen Foundation
The Rick Hansen Foundation offered expert advice on universal accessible design for this project. At the project’s completion, the Foundation rated it as one of the highest scoring washrooms in their index.
This single-use washroom is large enough for fully motorized mobility devices. It includes an adult-sized, powered change table, a power ceiling lift system that moves across the washroom, three ADA coat hooks at varying heights, fully powered doors and emergency alert push bars throughout.
Official Opening in October 2022
On October 13, 2022, as one of his last duties as Warden, John Monahan presided over the official opening of the universal washroom, along with the UTSU president, Omar Gharbiyeh; Alicia Abbott from U of T Accessibility Awareness Club; and Vice Provost, Students, Sandy Welsh.
Hart House remains committed to partnering with donors like UTSU. A permanent donor recognition sign will soon be installed to recognize the UTSU’s significant donation.
“Hart House is proud of our continued effort to facilitate the inclusion of campus and community members of all abilities into our facilities and services,” says Wambera. "Students have always led the way at Hart House, and the UTSU is once again demonstrating how students are building a better future for the House."
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