One of Canada's most iconic landmarks — the CN Tower — is now also one of the most accessible after receiving the highest level of certification from the Rick Hansen Foundation.
Canada Lands Company, which is responsible for the tower, announced Wednesday that it was awarded Gold Certification by the foundation for its efforts in making the landmark accessible for all people.
"As we work together to create an accessible and barrier-free Canada, we need to ensure that everyone can access spaces and buildings," said Carla Qualtrough, the federal minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion.
Accessibility has been one of its top priorities since 2015, though retrofitting a building like the CN Tower presented some challenges, said Peter George, the landmark's chief operating officer.
"We realize that we have a lot of work to do and we're committed to this progress," George told CBC Toronto.
George said the renovations which are conducted in consultation with accessibility experts, have helped get the CN Tower to this level of accessibility.
The building has undergone a series of upgrades, such as installing floor-to-ceiling window walls on the observation deck and removing barriers of access to the view.
George says the outdoor terrace level below the observation deck, which is currently under renovation, will also further enhance accessibility throughout the site.
"Ensuring our building is accessible and inclusive means that everyone can feel welcome visiting the tower," George said.
It also helps us attract a diverse team of talented people to work here, and that benefits everyone."
More work to remove barriers
Rick Hansen created the B.C.-based foundation after completing a 26-month trip around the world in his wheelchair in May of 1987. He became famous for his effort to make the world inclusive for people with disabilities and to find a cure for paralysis.
Hansen was one of the first people in a wheelchair to complete the CN Tower EdgeWalk in 2015.
The athlete and accessibility advocate says there is still a lot of work to do to remove more barriers.
"One in five Canadians have a disability and this is only growing as our population continues to age," Hansen said in a video.
"And it's important that iconic Canadian attractions like the CN Tower are enjoyed by people of all abilities."