A disabled person claims a building-code violation at the new Park Royal Cineplex — which slipped past district inspectors — limits her ability to watch a movie at the new cinema and also poses serious heath risk.
“I would like to hear from you as to why this Cineplex is not up to code and what the Municipality will do to correct this situation,” the person wrote to the district.
When the person went to see a movie at the new Cineplex, the designated seating area for the disabled was at the front “where the screen is literally right in your face”.
“This has to be the most nauseating experience, made worse by the fact that you have to crank your neck back to watch the film which, after a while, makes you dizzy. That, as I was told by my physiotherapist, is extremely dangerous as you are reducing the blood oxygen supply to the brain. This could result in you passing out. People with disabilities have enough health challenges without this added issue. Who approves such seating?”
The person said earlier there was a choice to go to the Esplanade cinema in North Vancouver, but that closed down when the Park Royal opened. Now, the person would have to go to Park and Tilford, which is “the only accessible cinema for people with all disabilities”.
When the person complained to the provincial officer who deals with building codes and standards, the officer said the building code in fact required accessible seating to not be in the first three rows but to be higher up to provide a clear view of the event or the movie.
The provincial official said this had been a fairly “long-standing Code requirement” unless the cinema was constructed before provincial code requirements. Park Royal Cineplex opened in April this year.
“How does this blatant error get past the building inspectors? Non-compliance to this and indeed all other codes, affects the quality of lives for many people,” the disabled person wrote to the district.
According to the complainant, the provincial official said the code compliance was the responsibility of West Vancouver Municipality and not the BC Government.
“This is obviously a problem and needs to be tackled head on with those responsible — building contractors, sub-contractors, etc, — being forced to comply with the building code. If not, what is the point to any of these codes?” the person wrote.
Michelle McGuire, manager of current planning and urban design for West Vancouver, has promised the complainant that someone from the Permits and Inspections group would conducting a review of the approved plans.
However, Sarah Van Lange, the executive director, communications, for Cineplex, said the new Park Royal cinema complied with the code.
“I was able to circle back with our construction team as well as several of our external consultants and can confirm that Cineplex Cinemas Park Royal and VIP complies with all aspects of the Building Code,” she said.
According to Lange, in addition to accessible seating, Cineplex also offers several programmes that accommodate guests who are deaf, deafened, hard of hearing, visually impaired as well as those who live with physical and mobility challenges and sensory sensitivities.
“These offerings include our Access 2 program, Sensory Friendly Screenings, CaptiView captioning devices and Fidelio described video services. This commitment is first and foremost about doing the right thing and we are proud of our position as a Canadian retail leader in accessibility. As always, we appreciate the feedback we have received from our guest, who has also connected with our guest services team to continue the conversation.”