Ask-A-Candidate Question 21

Editor’s Note: As part of our ongoing coverage of Election 2010, MorinvilleNews.com is accepting question from our readers, which will be published anonymously for candidates to answer. Please note that only candidates will be able to respond to the questions asked by our readers. Links to questions asked will be archived in our Ask-A-Candidate section. See link in navigation bar above.

QUESTION ADDRESSED TO MORINVILLE MAYORAL AND COUNCIL CANDIDATES

Dear Morinville News:

I am a new reader to your amazing media source -Morinville News.

When I first began to read the “Ask a Candidate”, I thought this was a great forum to have questions answered. I have also observed that Mayor Bertschi is the most committed person who cares enough to answer the many tough questions. Thank-you Mayor Bertschi for your passion and dedication for promptly addressing the questions.

As a person who has participated on many executive committees, I appreciate all of the work our elected council and Mayor have done for our Town. If anyone thinks it is easy to just “run a town” then I invite others to genuinely wear the shoes of our elected officials and see that they wear shoes just like you and I and that the laces break from time to time.

Thank-you Mayor Bertschi and your team for addressing issues regarding accessibility for our citizens. I take my severely handicapped family member for “strolls” in the community and have noticed and appreciate the many upgrades made with wheelchair accessibility on curbs and the amazing walking paths that promote a healthier town.

My 2 questions are:

Can you tell me any future plans that will promote user friendliness and accessibility for people with disabilities or mobility impairments?

In an attempt to support the local economy, I brought my family member into [a local business] and it was not accessible. Consequently, we left. Does the town have any legislation or guidelines that require business owners to be accessible for people with physical disabilities? A concern I hear is from clients who have a disability that it is very undignified to be carried unsafely by untrained “helpful” passerby shoppers.

I also encourage everyone who is able to vote to get out there on October 18th

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3 Comments

  1. Thank you for the question and your concerns.

    First of all I would like to say that I feel for you and know what you are going through. My spouse Barbara suffers from MS and is confined to a wheelchair to the point that we will need to place her in a long term care facility (nursing home).

    I am a believer that all people should have access to all facilities. Do all buildings (businesses) in Morinville have disability access? NO! Should they all have? YES! However; being held back by rules and regulations on this issue, some business come under the “Grandfather” system; as their building was build before the disability law came about, plus most buildings in this situation would be almost impossible to built a disable access due to space. I spoke to most of them and they believe this should happen, but their concern is how.

    All future businesses (buildings) will all need to be wheelchair accessible; that means getting in and out of the facility, parking, proper washrooms and enough room to move to enjoy the facility.
    What I will be fighting for on this issue is to have a long term care facility built in Morinville. Morinville residents now must go to St. Albert or Edmonton to be placed in a long term care facility. Our residents were born here, lived here all their life, and now need help and we are shipping them out. Families like to stay together.

    Years ago I was told by a person wiser than me, “Caregivers are the Live Stone of Humanity”.

    To answer your question more directly, YES the bylaw will be clear “that there will be disability access to your business or there will be no business”.

  2. Several years ago the town had a program to make all sidewalk pedestrian crossing slope for handicap accessibility and now we have accessibility throughout the town as you mentioned including our walking trails. Perhaps you have notice the installation of outdoor exercise equipment along the trails, a project that was proposed by retiring councilor Gosselin. Under his suggestion some handicap accessible equipment should be a project for 2011. That equipment would also be installed along the trails. If reelected I will propose that we follow the suggestion.
    As far a building accessibility all new construction and major renovations are bound by the building code as far as handicap accessibility. We can encourage older building owners to try and accommodate accessibility as best they can.

  3. Please allow me to answer your question from an access to building and then access to open space perspective.

    BUILDINGS:
    As a Member of the Canadian Institute of Planners barrier free access to buildings is something we work with. Information on barrier free access can be obtained by contacting the Safety Codes Council at http://www.safetycodes.ab.ca

    There is a useful free 136 page manual that can be downloaded on that website following the links through “Codes and Standards” and then “barrier free”.

    Basically, all federal, provincial and municipal buildings are required to provide barrier free access.

    Private sector buildings have a more complicated set of rules.

    Buildings constructed prior to 1978 do not have to provide barrier free access. if they do a renovation then that rule changes. Buildings constructed between 1978 and 2001 have a varied set of rules and I advise people interested in the specific rules to contact the Safety Codes Council.

    Buildings constructed since 2002 must provide barrier free access unless a relaxation of the barrier free access is applied for at the time of the construction (rarely granted).

    That’s the regulated part of the answer to your question.

    Now from a practical side, businesses have tended to make provision for barrier free access to their buildings. I know of at least four commercial buildings in Morinville where the business owners provide alternate access for customers for barrier free entrance other than the main entrance. In some cases the design of older buidings does not make this practical.

    OPEN SPACE:
    Generally, sidewalks in newer subdivisions provide barrier free access. In older subdivisions this may not be the case.
    All of the walkway systems in Morinville are designed to be barrier free. However, I have noticed certain areas where pathways are not barrier free. In the Lakes some of the curbs are too high to allow access. In South Glens, the pedestrian access north into the industrial park is clearly not barier free!

    Yes author, your comment on “helpful” people trying to carry people into buildings is well put.

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