Public washrooms, arena railings targeted by accessibility committee

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAAC) has updated town council on its five-year plan and has identified areas of improvement for the town.

Committee member Valentino Mancini appeared before council at the March 4 meeting where he updated the town on the committees initiatives and put forth the committee’s list of the top five priorities they have.

The presentation also included the committee’s five-year plan, which was adopted by council with the town to include it on the municipality’s website.

“It will be a tool to ensure that the best possible practices are used in the town of Amherstburg,” said Mancini of the five-year plan.

Among the priorities identified by Mancini included various washrooms in public buildings. He noted there were issues with washrooms at the visitor information centre including missing grab bars, a toilet being too low to the ground and exposed pipes under the sink, the latter presenting hazards for people in wheelchairs.

The Toddy Jones Park washrooms feature such issues as toilets being too low in the accessible stalls while the washrooms at Malden Centre washrooms have a “lip” at the entrance to the washrooms that prevent wheelchair access, Mancini stated.

Town Logo Small-web The AAAC also prioritized improvements at various local playgrounds, including with surfaces and sidewalks, in order to make those playgrounds more accessible. Improvements at the Miracle League baseball diamond washrooms, including a new change table, were also sought.

Another of the priorities identified by the AAAC was a renewed call for handrails in the seating area of Rink A at the United Communities Credit Union (UCCU) Complex. Mancini said citizens are having a tough time at points getting up and down the steps without having something to grab on to.

Councillor Diane Pouget noted she has looked into the issue and has been told by the fire department the aisles aren’t wide enough. Chief building official Steve Brown stated that 1.1-metres of width is needed for ingress and egress under the Ontario Building Code. To accommodate a railing and be in compliance with the code, seats would have to be removed and the aisles widened, Brown added.

Director of recreation and culture Dean Collver said the same issues presented itself during his previous employment in Sarnia. Solutions were difficult to find as attempts to install railings there made aisles too narrow to be classified as proper fire exits.

“Any time you put anything in the aisle, you are putting an obstruction to a fire exit,” said Collver.

Mayor Wayne Hurst noted the issue of railways in aisles at the UCCU Complex was not a new issue and called for administration to bring back with “a definitive answer” on the subject.

Councillor John Sutton said he was “in full support of the plan” and said the town has made “significant investments” in to improving accessibility locally. He praised the work of the AAAC, which includes six at large members and Councillor Bart DiPasquale as the council liaison.

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