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Rising Concern About Elevator, Accessibility at Durham Arena

Posted By LAURA MACDUFF, POST NEWS
April 9, 2010

Plans that do not include an elevator in the Durham Arena sparked some concerns from members of the public this week. After a public information session held at the Durham Community Centre at the end of March, West Grey Coun. Carol Lawrence, chair of the building committee, brought forth the comments to council.

Last Monday, Mayor Kevin Eccles, after researching into whether West Grey had to include an elevator in their plans, concluded that the Ontario Accessibility Act is under review, and hopes that the Ontario government will step forward to provide funding or service groups.

The Accessibility Act will be under review until 2012. As of right now, there is no legislation that deems an elevator must be installed within the facility.

Currently, the building committee has allocated space within the facility for an elevator, but has not included the actual elevator in their plans, in hopes
that there will be some funding come from the province or grants available that West Grey could apply for.

“The government has good ideas, but hasn’t come up with any money yet. I think we should wait,” said Plume, after Mayor Eccles presented to council his findings.

Well-known advocates for wheelchair accessibility and the West Grey Youth Citizen of the Year were present at the meeting -namely, Natalie McDonald and her mother Christina. Christina McDonald expressed her concerns to council, and offered the opinion and standpoint of a mother of a 10-year-old confined to a wheelchair, as well as her experiences with what works and what does not. Among the problems that Natalie experiences now at the arena are heavy doors at the front of the building, and confining bathrooms that don’t provide enough room for her and her motorized wheelchair.

As well, MacDonald says Natalie is only allocated to stay in one spot when she goes to the arena to watch hockey games or other events. She says Natalie cannot get to the Mezzanine upstairs, and has difficulty even getting on the ice.

“I feel a little bit strange sometimes,” said Natalie, following the council meeting. “If I go with my brother, I have to bring other people so I can get
in.”

MacDonald said the arena, as it is constructed now, does not provide well for those in wheelchairs. She says that she and her daughter have taken along
a piece of wood that helps Natalie get onto the ice via the door for the Zamboni.

“I would love to let her go, but she can’t pull the door to get in,” said MacDonald, expressing just one of many things people don’t think of when it comes
to wheelchair accessibility.

“I would love to see the plans,” said MacDonald, prior to offering her support and experience to the committee.

Article ID# 2526748

Reproduced from http://www.thepost.on.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2526748