Back in 2006, the City of Kingston released the 2007 (4 Year) Accessibility Plan, which was geared towards identifying and improving programs, facilities and infrastructure that were not fully accessible to those with disabilities. Since then, new projects, specifically the K-Rock Centre, Invista Centre, Market Square pavilion and Kingston Police Station, have all been completed with an eye towards ensuring that the Limestone City is barrier free. That said, there is still much work to be done before Kingston can claim that it is fully accessible. Presently, the 2010 Accessibility Plan is being prepared with input from the public, while key areas of concern include taxicabs and city-owned parks.
Within the press release regarding the upcoming public consultation sessions, Eric Dinelle, Accessibility Compliance Project Manager, stated:
The year 2010 is a big year for accessibility work at the City. There are new provincial regulations that we have to implement and we are making that one of our top priorities for 2010. City staff and the Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee (MAAC) have been working hard to make the City accessible. It’s not easy, but we remain committed to making Kingston accessible to every citizen, which is why we want to hear from citizens about the Accessibility Plan.
As last year’s Kingston Access Bus strike demonstrated, when accessible transportation services go offline, people with mobility limitations cannot attend scheduled medical appointments, let alone go grocery shopping. Try as they might, local taxi companies do not have a vast and ready fleet of accessible vehicles, and so they are unable to accommodate wheelchairs, scooters and the like. The 2010 Accessibility Plan is expected to address this, by encouraging local taxi companies to purchase wheelchair friendly vehicles, equipped with ramps, and specialized securing mechanisms. The question remains, will the city provide any funding, or are local taxi operators expected to foot the bill?
While the new splash pad in City Park may be accessible, a considerable amount of adjustments are required to make the remainder of our parks barrier free. Problem areas range from play structures without ramps, to uneven, unfriendly surfaces, which do not permit the free movement of assistance devices. In the end, upgrades to our public parks will provide everyone with equal opportunities to engage in an active lifestyle, and enjoy more of the outdoors.
If you want to provide your input to the 2010 Accessibility Plan, please note tomorrow and Wednesday’s meetings as listed in the press release. Thanks to kumaru for today’s moving photo of a non-accessible sidewalk.