01/20/2015 11:11 EST | Updated 03/22/2015 05:59 EDT

Rosedale station still without elevator after woman's 20-year wait

Jean Gemmell can see Rosedale subway station from her home, but she has trouble getting to the trains.  

The 82-year-old Toronto woman has arthritis and poor vision, but the subway station has no elevators.

“If you fell down those concrete steps, you would be lucky to survive,” she told CBC Toronto. “It is that dangerous.”

Gemmell said she has been asking the TTC to install an elevator at Rosedale station for nearly two decades, but keeps getting different promises. She is now voicing her frustration with the accessibility of the city’s transit system.

Gemmell said she asked the TTC in the 1990s to make Rosedale station more accessible, because her now-late husband used a wheelchair.

“I was told by somebody in the TTC that it was on the list to be done in the next five to seven years,” she said.

She phoned back this week and was told that the date has been pushed to 2017. Gemmell said her arthritis has gotten worse in the meantime.

But that new date she was told appeared to have been pushed back again, as TTC confirmed to CBC Toronto on Tuesday that an elevator won’t be installed at Rosedale station until 2024.

Lack of funding causes delays, TTC says

TTC spokesman Brad Ross attributed the delay to lack of funding, as the transit system faces a capital funding shortfall of $3 billion.

“Stations like Rosedale need to be accessible. We're completely committed to that, but the funding challenge is such that some of these dates are unfortunately getting pushed out,” he said.

Previous plans had called for all stations to be accessible by the end of 2020, but that date has now been set for 2025.

It's all taken far too long for accessibility advocate David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Alliance.

“The TTC has been bobbing and weaving and dodging on its commitments to make all subway stations accessible,” he said.

Lepofsky said TTC stations should have been built to be accessible during construction. 

“They didn't just invent people with disabilities last week, they had people with disabilities back when they built these stations," he said. 

Gemmell isn't convinced by the TTC's latest promises, either.

“I have not thought that they're going to keep it because they keep moving it every two years — you get another answer,” she said. 

The next-nearest station at Yonge and Bloor streets does have an elevator, but Gemmell said it's dangerously crowded.