CORNWALL, Ontario – From the hallways of the flagship Benson Centre to new play structures in community parks, the City of Cornwall is showing a commitment to making things accessible to all residents.
It’s been 10 years since the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) came into effect, and in that time, the city has made tremendous gains on accessibility.
“We have become known as one of the leaders in the province on accessibility issues,” said Manon Levesque, deputy city clerk and accessibility advisor. “We took a pro-active approach many years ago and it is starting to pay dividends. The results are becoming more apparent and we continue to make strides every year.”
The city has an accessibility plan which sets out a goal of achieving an accessible and barrier-free community by 2025. To help achieve that goal, the city relies in part on the Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee (MAAC). This volunteer group of residents advises council on accessibility matters and provides annual updates on Cornwall’s progress in becoming barrier-free.
On Thursday MAAC took things a step further by organizing a tour to showcase the accessibility features in place at a number of public facilities and parks in Cornwall. City officials, MAAC members and other community leaders got to see and hear about the accessibility features in place at the Aquatic Centre, Benson Centre, Cornwall Public Library, Cornwall Transit and numerous parks.
Tour participants got to see a whole slate of features that add to Cornwall’s reputation as an accessible community. This includes ramped pool entrances and swimming aids at the Aquatic Centre, designated seating areas for persons in wheelchairs and their families at the Benson Centre and elevator access and large-print offerings at the Library, to name just a few. Tour participants were transported by Cornwall Transit, which proudly offers a Handi-Transit service.
Some other highlights of the city’s accessibility efforts include:
– 13 city parks now have splashpads and/or accessible playground equipment, with plans to add more in future years.
– Eight city intersections are now equipped with audible pedestrian signals
– Accessible signage has been installed in municipal buildings
– Free parking is provided to motorists displaying an accessible parking pass (this includes on-street parking and in city-owned parking lots)
– Making information more accessible through improvements to the city website, including the development of a mobile version for mobile devices such as phones and tablets
“Thanks to work of MAAC and the support of city council, we really have come a long way in removing barriers in our community,” said Levesque.