Accessibility is now hard-wired into everything the Town of Hawkesbury does.
Council recently approved the town’s 2019-2024 Accessibility Plan. The new five-year plan was developed by the Municipal Accessibility Committee, chaired by Johanne Ménard, in collaboration with all municipal departments. The plan is to ensure compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), the provincial law aimed at eliminating accessibility barriers to people with various physical, cognitive, and intellectual handicaps.
The plan will ensure all residents can easily access municipal administrative services, as well as other facilities like the recreation complex, playgrounds, parks, and sidewalks.
During the previous 2013 to 2018 plan, several accessibility improvements were made. Automatic doors were installed at the town hall and needs for accessibility improvements were identified at municipal parks. At Confederation Park, accessible picnic tables were added, and the washroom facilities were made fully accessible.
The new plan calls for accessibility to be included in the future management of all parks and recreation facilities, and in the construction of roads, sidewalks, and traffic signals.
In 2020, the focus will be on ensuring services at the town hall remain accessible following the relocation of some department offices and improving washroom accessibility within the building. Automatic doors will be installed on the council chamber and the table where council sits will be made accessible. At the Robert Hartley Recreation Complex, an elevator will be installed that allows people with limited mobility to enter the swimming pool. All accessibility improvements are already factored into planned projects within the yearly municipal budget.
“Step by step, we’re going to get there,” said Councillor Antonios Tsourounakis about the accessibility plan.
Senior Planner Manon Belle-Isle told Mayor Paula Assaly that funding is also available through the Community Improvement Plan for better accessibility for local businesses.
Recreation and Tourism Director Nicole Trudeau also responded to another question from the mayor and said it is possible to install a ramp to make the boat launch at Confederation Park accessible.