THE lack of disabled toilets at Lynwood Village Shopping Centre is discriminatory and archaic, says disability pensioner Peter Watson.
The 68-year-old Langford resident has been a regular visitor to the centre for 40 years but said he would stop visiting due to the lack of disabled toilets.
“Really, the centre is archaic. It is shameful that a large shopping complex does not have any disabled toilets,” he said.
Mr Watson has been campaigning for the centre to install disabled toilets for the past year and called on the City of Canning and Cannington MLA Bill Johnston to put pressure on the centre.
In December last year, he lodged a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission and was recently informed that it had accepted his complaint.
Mr Watson said the centre’s toilets lacked handrails and people who used wheelchairs were unable to access the toilet block due to a narrow doorway and step at the entry point. He said he had difficulty moving and getting up from a seated position after injuring his back in a car accident 20 years ago.
“I have problems getting up and down from the toilet,” he said.
He said he knew of six other people with disabilities who visited the shopping centre who had also expressed their dismay at the lack of disabled toilets.
“I went to my local member and told him it was a big problem and straight away he wrote to the City of Canning about the issue, which was great,” he said.
“The government has the power to change the situation but they don’t.”
City officers responded in last month’s council meeting minutes to questions raised by Mr Watson in February, stating they did not have any legal power to enforce a retrospective upgrade to the toilets as the centre was compliant with the building standards that were current at the time of its approval and construction.
“Should the buildings be upgraded or the centre redeveloped, compliance with the current building standards (which would include providing a compliant accessible sanitary facility) would be required, as the Building Code of Australia now requires accessible toilets for new buildings,” the report stated.
Officers said the City had sent a letter dated October 28, 2016, to the centre’s owners, requesting that they consider an upgrade to the toilets. As at last month’s meeting, the City had not received a response from the centre.
A spokesman for the centre manager, Mair & Co Commercial, said disabled toilets were not a requirement when the shopping centre was built in the 1970s and the current disability access standards for commercial premises were not retrospective.
“Disabled toilets would be included as part of a redevelopment of Lynwood Village in the future,” he said.
“However, the owners of the centre are yet to decide on any redevelopment at this stage.”
He said in recent years the owners had done several improvements to enhance the centre’s amenity, including fitting new bike racks, resurfacing the centre’s carpark, installing CCTV and upgrading internal and external lighting to make the area more secure.