Thursday, 28 May 2015
By Stephen Vance, Staff News
The Municipality of Meaford will undertake a new accessibility project with the installation of a ramp at the entry to the terrace at the side of Meaford Hall.
The project carries a maximum cost of $2,500, which will come from Meaford’s accessibility reserve fund. The accessibility reserve has a current balance of approximately $17,500, with $5,000 committed to projects that were approved in the 2015 budget.
“The area of Meaford Hall comprised of the parking lot and terrace is used for various functions and events, including Canada Day and the Meaford International Film Festival. As a result of public feedback, staff investigated potential solutions to improve accessibility at this location,” read a staff report to council. “The project involves alterations to the existing grade to allow for the construction of a ramp joining the terrace and the parking lot. The work will be done in compliance with the Building Code.”
Accessibility projects like this will become more and more common in the coming years. The provincial Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act (AODA) was first introduced in 2005, and all public sector organizations must be in compliance this year for a new construction or substantial renovations.
The AODA includes five areas for mandatory accessibility standards. These include:
Customer Service, Employment, Information and Communications, Transportation and Design of Public Spaces
The ramp to be installed at Meaford Hall falls under ‘Design of Public Spaces’.
Some of the requirements for the design of public spaces under the AODA include:
- 20% or a minimum of one accessible table that can be accessed by moving forward not having to back in
- A minimum of 1500mm for sidewalks and/or pathways
- Accessible parking on and off street where 4% of spaces are accessible in new lots with greater than 100 spots
- Minimum of one accessible counter when providing service to the public, and queueing and waiting areas wide enough to support assistive devices
- TTY services as well as hearing enhancement devices, Braille labelling on signage, clear emergency information/signage including exit information
- Maintenance and restoration of public spaces to keep accessibility equipment and features in working order
In April of 2010 Meaford Hall lowered the counter for its box office ticket window in order to improve accessibility. To comply with the accessibility requirements, the box office window had to be lowered eight inches which then allowed those in wheelchairs to access the window without difficulty.
The installation of the new ramp will further improve accessibility to the hall for those in wheelchairs or who use walkers.
“The removal of a physical barrier at Meaford Hall through the introduction of a ramp between the terrace and the parking lot will improve accessibility at this vital community and municipal facility,” said municipal staff in their report to council.