By Sue Dickens
EMC Lifestyles – Campbellford – Accessibility at the Trent Hills municipal swimming pool is going to be completed this summer as a result of recommendations by the Accessibility Advisory Committee.

Chaired by Camille Edwards for the past four years, the committee is again moving forward under her guidance for another term that followed the municipal election.

Previous members have joined some new ones and the committee is again focused on the group’s mandate which is to increase public awareness of the Accessibility Plan and to advise council on the identification, removal and prevention of barriers to access.

“The swimming pool already has a portable lift and the staff is trained to use it. The lift has been there for a few years now,” said Edwards who is very excited about the upgrades planned for the pool this summer.

“There have been a lot of improvements inside the washrooms but what we need now is what we are getting, a ramp,” she said.

According to the municipality’s Community Services Officer Scott Rose, “The pool upgrades involve constructing a ramp access into the front door. The ramp will cost approximately $21,000 and the new power operated door will cost approximately $8,000.”

The committee is also hoping there will be designated parking for people with Accessible Parking Permits (APP), either on Ranney Street, where the pool is located, or on the pool property by the front entrance, said Edwards.

“We have to make sure emergency vehicles still have access,” she explained. At the moment there is no designated accessible parking on the property or nearby.

Rose did say that, “any accessible parking reviews will probably only be able to be completed on Ranney Street for this year. We are always looking to make accessible improvements when we have the approved budget money.”

“Once we do all that the pool should be totally accessible,” added Edwards.

“There’s a lot of work to do, there’s so much that is coming down from the government,” she said.

It’s all part of meeting the mandates outlined in the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, which is part of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005 (AODA).

As reported in EMC recently an accessibility workshop hosted by the Trent Hills Chamber was held in Hastings to clarify the steps needed to comply with the standards.

This regulation is one more step in the province’s goal of creating a barrier-free and accessible Ontario by 2025.

The standards came into effect January 1, 2008, and providers of goods or services with one or more employees in Ontario must comply with the regulation. Public sector organizations were given a January 1, 2010, deadline, while private businesses, non-profit organizations or other service providers with at least one employee have been given a deadline of January 1, 2012.

The municipality had until March 18 to submit its report on how it intends to meet the standards.

The pool improvement is one of those accessibility upgrades.

Currently there are three members on the committee who are disabled and this meets the requirement that “more than 50 per cent” of its members be persons with disabilities.

“We would like to still have more members. If we could get more members that would be wonderful,” said Edwards.

“We get such good ideas from persons with disabilities,” said Edwards.

For example, she said, Jennifer Gibson, a member of the committee who is hearing impaired, suggested silent alarms be considered for fire alarms.

“It’s suggestions like this that helps us find out more about what we need to do,” said Edwards.

Last year the committee recommended that accessibility be included in the municipality’s Downtown Community Improvement Plan (CIP) .

“If a business wants to make an entrance accessible they can apply for funding. It’s done on a 50-50 basis,” said Edwards.

Another community appointee who has been a member of the committee for the past five years is Sonny Lennon.

“Our real responsibility is to the municipality to make sure they understand what’s coming down and help them to decide on the priorities they should have in order to fix some of the problems. Some aren’t going to get fixed in the short run, simply because there is no funding available,” he said.

“The municipality understands that people of all types of disabilities live in this community and we have to be prepared to serve them. The swimming pool is the number one project for this year … but there are a lot of little things we can do too. Even though a lot of what we are doing is small stuff it is just as important,” said Lennon.

“At the committee’s urgings the municipality has set into place an appropriate plan because all of this is looming and if senior levels of government don’t come up with money the municipality has to,” he explained.

Deputy-mayor Rosemary Kelleher-MacLennan is the municipality’s appointee to the committee.

The next meeting is April 12 at 10 a.m. at the municipal office.