Accessibility

 

We hope to soon host you at the Victoria Event Centre in a safe, positive, and comfortable way!

Accessibility at the VEC is an ongoing project, and we continue to work to make the space more accessible to all kinds of folks. There are also a lot of different barriers to accessibility that have been identified, that we continue to work on. As part of this process, we welcome feedback about access needs, and suggestions on creative ways to increase access.

Quick Facts

The VEC is centrally located downtown and there are numerous bus stops nearby. Transit info (including distances from bus stop to venue) can be seen via google maps https://goo.gl/maps/a2eM6pTncEL2

Parking map of downtown available here. Map of reserved parking for people with BC Disability Parking Permit can be found here.

Unfortunately our elevator is out of commission, so the only way into the VEC is up 27 wood stairs, 11″ deep, 6″ high. There are wooden 2.5” handrails 38” up the wall on each side of the staircase (54” apart, so not graspable on both sides at once). See further details in ‘Getting Inside’ below

There are three multi-user, gender-inclusive bathrooms with stalls. One bathroom has a larger stall with its own sink and a grab bar (more details in the ‘Bathrooms’ section below)

As fragrances can be harmful for folks with respiratory problems and chemical sensitivities, we encourage people to avoid wearing/using scented products, including essential oils or other natural scents. However, while we’re working to reduce scents at the VEC, it’s not a scent-free space (see details in ‘Scent’ section).

Alcohol and drugs: we host some events with alcohol, and some events without. From 5pm onwards we have a liquor primary license. As a liquor-controlled space, alcohol consumption is controlled and monitored by staff, and no other drugs can be consumed on site. More details in the the ‘Alcohol and Drugs’ section below.

Getting Here

There are numerous bus stops nearby. From UVic through Oaklands, the #4 drops at Douglas and Cormorant (190m from VEC); from UVic through Fernwood, #14 drops at Douglas/Yates (200m); from Esquimalt, #25 drops at Johnson and Broad (85m); from Swartz Bay Ferry, #70 drops at Douglas and Cormorant (190m). This bus stop is also for #4, 11, 14, 21, 22, 30, 31, 32, 47, 48, 50, 61, 70, 71, 72).

More info on BC bus transit website: https://bctransit.com/victoria/schedules-and-maps

Transit info (including distances from bus stop to venue) can be seen via google maps

https://goo.gl/maps/a2eM6pTncEL2

Bike lockup: There is 1 bike rack in front of the venue, and several others along Broad, Johnson and Pandora within 100m. These often fill up during busy events.

Parking: There are metered public parking on Broad and Pandora St, free after 6pm and on Sundays, but the spots on Broad St near the VEC are often occupied. The nearest public parkade is at 645 Fisgard St (free for the first hour and after 6pm on weekdays and Saturdays; free all day Sunday; has an accessible elevator), approx 300m or 100m away if you cut through Centennial Square. Parking map of downtown available here.

There is one parking spot reserved for Disability Parking Permits  at Pandora and Government. A map of reserved parking for people with BC Disability Parking Permit can be found here, and more info here. There are curb cuts from parking on Pandora to the front entrance on Broad St (and curb cuts all along Broad St).  

Getting inside

The VEC is not normally open to the public unless there is a public event going on (see our calendar of events here), so if you’d like to come check out the space, please get in touch and we can arrange a time to show you around and answer questions about booking the venue. Unfortunately, our elevator is broken and we recently learned that it can’t be repaired (basically a new one needs to be built) so right now, the only way into the VEC is through a main entrance and up a flight of stairs (details below). We recognize that this is a major barrier for those with mobility devices and folks who have trouble with stairs. We want to be creative in navigating this barrier, so if you’re one of these people, and you have ideas about how we could support you in accessing the space (for example, by having a staff person or event organizer meet you at the door and carrying your mobility device up the stairs and/or helping you up the stairs), please get in touch.

Main entrance: There is a moveable doormat just inside the entrance that is raised slightly (~1/8″) above the floor. The front door swings outwards and leads to a staircase with 27 wood stairs, 11″ deep, 6″ high. There are wooden 2.5” handrails 38” up the wall on each side of the staircase (54” apart, so not graspable on both sides at once). The handrails extend 8″ past the top stair and do not extend past the bottom riser.

Moving around the space

The main area (between the stage and bar counter) is level and without steps. At the doorway between the main area and the landing at the top of the stairs, there is a ¼” metal lip and the floor slopes up by ~1” over a distance of ~1’. Other than the stairs up from the main entrance, there are two steps (first 9.5” high with 12” deep step, then 6” step up to main stage); one 8” step up to side stage; two steps (9” high with 10” deep step, then 6” step) up to seating area behind bar counter; one step 6” up to seating area behind lounge counter and another 6” step up to upper lounge space. The coat check counter is 39” high; the bar is 42” high, the ATM is 39” to the keypad, 26” to the money slot, 40 to the card slot, and 45” to the bottom of the screen.

Chairs and other furniture: There is a variety of seating including couches, banquet chairs with padded bottoms and backs, wooden chairs with padded bottoms, and padded armchairs. The most common chairs (banquet chairs) used throughout the space are sturdy metal construction: 19” from the floor to the top of the 16×16 padded seat cushion; from the top of the seat cushion, the cushioned back 19” high.

Layout of the space: The layout of all seating is highly variable and determined by event organizers, including number and layout of chairs and tables, and priority/reserved seating (e.g. there may be rows of chairs for certain events, or tables and chairs, or most chairs may be removed). If you need a specific kind of chair, or a reserved spot for a mobility device, or you have other accessibility needs concerning furniture for an event, please contact the event organizers, and VEC staff can be on hand to help out with setup and layout.

Coat check: The coat check isn’t mandatory and depending on the event, it’s either free or ~$2 to check an item. The coat check counter is 39” high.

Food: The VEC doesn’t serve food but you’re welcome to bring your own. Sometimes event organizers sell or provide food at events.

Bathrooms

There are three multi-user, gender-inclusive bathrooms with stalls. For people with mobility devices, the VEC has renovated one of the bathrooms to improve accessibility to one stall; however, it does not meet some significant requirements of an accessible bathroom (in particular, certain areas may not be wide enough to accommodate certain mobility devices). This bathroom is located behind the stage and is accessed from a door to the left of the stage, turning right down a 32″ wide hallway, through another room and turning right through a 31″ door into the bathroom. The largest stall has a 30″ door, and has a grab bar on the wall to the right if sitting on the toilet. The stall is 3.5′ x 5′. The sink is 30″ high and does not have a cut to wheel under the sink; the soap dispenser is 16″ deep from the front edge of the sink. The paper towel dispenser is 43″ from the floor.

Scents

The VEC is working to reduce scents throughout the space, as fragrances can be harmful for folks with respiratory problems and chemical sensitivities. We encourage people to avoid wearing/using scented products, including essential oils or other natural scents. See this website for more info on reducing scent.

While we’re working to reduce scents at the VEC, it’s not a scent-free (or even low-scent) space right now. Bathrooms are regularly cleaned with disinfectant cleaner; the whole area is regularly mopped with a floor cleaner; counters and tabletops are cleaned with foodsafe cleaner (none of these are strongly scented (i.e. no artificial scent is added) but they are not a specialty low-scent products. There are scented urinal screens in one of the bathrooms (the one behind the coat check). The lounge portion of the space was painted with interior latex paint in Nov 2017. If you have scent sensitivities, we would like to hear ideas on ways we can try to make the venue more accessible for you.

Lighting, audio, visual

The VEC is working to reduce scents throughout the space, as fragrances can be harmful for folks with respiratory problems and chemical sensitivities. We encourage people to avoid wearing/using scented products, including essential oils or other natural scents. See this website for more info on reducing scent.

Lighting is generally dim in the main hall. Stage lights can be made brighter if needed (please contact an organizer to discuss). There are fluorescent lights in one of the bathrooms (the one by the coat check) and one fluorescent light in the hallway between the Green Room and the main hall. The rest of the space (main hall and other areas) are lit by a combination of halogen and incandescent bulbs. The VEC does not have strobe lights or lasers but sometimes event organizers bring special lighting for their events, so please be in touch with event organizers if you have concerns about this.

The VEC has a PA system and microphones that can be used for amplification, and a screen with a projector that can be used for visuals or live-captioning. There are fans that create some ambient noise, which can be turned off.

Alcohol, drugs and ID

We continue to recognize and navigate the complexities of a space where alcohol is served and used. We don’t shame or vilify folks for using alcohol or other drugs, and we want to help create supportive spaces where people can use alcohol in a way that’s safe and non-judgmental. We also support and host some events that are alcohol-free and accessible to folks who don’t want to be around alcohol. In terms of how to do all this, we are doing a lot of learning and these conversations are ongoing. Events may include alcohol but may also be alcohol-free (at the discretion of event organizers). By request, we can cover up signs and access to alcoholic beverages. Beer taps are visible from certain areas of the space and cannot be fully concealed but they can be turned off and all bottles (liquor, wine, etc) can be concealed and locked away.

From 5pm onwards we have a liquor primary license. As a liquor-controlled space, alcohol consumption is controlled and monitored by staff, and no other drugs can be consumed on site. By law, if someone is intoxicated in the space, staff need to ask them to leave. After 10pm we are licensed as a 19+ space and are required to check ID.

Quiet Space

If someone needs a quiet space during the event to sit down away from crowds or the stage, VEC staff can make office space available. Staff will need to be present in the office if it is being used. At the discretion of event organizers, the Green Room (behind the stage) can also be designated as a quiet / chill-out space.

Want more?

These are conversations that are really just beginning at the VEC, and we’re trying to take some early steps towards understanding how we might be able to increase access both in terms of the physical infrastructure,the culture of the spaces, and the events that happen here. A lot of factors that affect accessibility (such as room layout, resources like ASL, etc) are determined by event organizers, so we also want to work with organizers to answer questions, remove/navigate barriers, develop resources, and increase access.

Right now, we’re doing what we can with a limited budget, and identifying sources of funding to increase access and be able to compensate folks for helping to identify and address barriers, so please get in touch if you have any leads on funding sources that could support this.  We’d love to hear from you.

If you have any questions about accessibility or needs to access the space that we can help with, please contact us.

Special thanks to friends involved with OUST, CRUSH, and the Victoria Multi-Cultural Society who helped with researching and framing this accessibility statement.