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Reader Concerned About Lack of Accessibility in Gemmill Park Concept Plan

Carleton Place Almonte Canadian Gazette


I was quite disappointed when I saw the recent concept plan prepared by Lashley & Associates for the Gemmill Park Project play spaces in Almonte. Accessibility to the proposed playground improvements and the suitability of these improvements to people of all abilities is an ongoing concern of mine.

Effective Jan. 1, 2016, sections 80.18 80.20 were added to O. Reg. 191/11: Integrated Accessibility Standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, S.O. 2005, c. 11 (AODA). The following are excerpts from O. Reg 191/11:

– Outdoor play spaces, consultation requirements: 80.19 When constructing new or redeveloping existing outdoor play spaces, obligated organizations, other than small organizations, shall consult on the needs of children and caregivers with various disabilities and shall do so in the following manner:

1. The Government of Ontario, the Legislative Assembly, designated public sector organizations and large organizations must consult with the public and persons with disabilities.

– Outdoor play spaces, accessibility in design: 80.20 When constructing new or redeveloping existing play spaces that they intend to maintain, obligated organizations, other than small organizations, shall,

(a) incorporate accessibility features, such as sensory and active play components, for children and caregivers with various disabilities into the design of outdoor play spaces.

From what I can determine from the concept plan, it contains no elements/equipment designed for access/safe use by kids in wheelchairs or with other physical disabilities, and their caregivers. There are no obvious sensory components for those with sight or hearing disabilities. This concept plan is a perfect example of why the Ontario government requires consultation on the needs of children with various disabilities and their caregivers, when designing outdoor play spaces. It is very inappropriate for able adults to design these types of facilities, without the required consultation process. The play space proposed in this concept plan and the process used in its design do not conform with the requirements of the AODA and O.Reg. 191/11 so therefore are illegal.

I have contacted the mayor, councillors, and staff members of Mississippi Mills, and Lashley & Associates several times over the past few months to bring to their attention the non-compliance of the Gemmill Park project process with the AODA and O. Reg. 191/11. My concerns have been ignored and the project is moving forward. I believe that the design in the concept plan violates Section 1 of Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19: “Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability.”

I will continue to voice my opposition to the discrimination shown by the municipality to disabled kids and I will continue to try to get my concerns into the hands of government officials, organizations who work with the disabled and the general public. I encourage everybody, not just residents of Mississippi Mills, to contact the mayor and councillors of Mississippi Mills and let them know that this is not acceptable.

Steve Maynard

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