Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Accessibility an afterthought during Timms construction

Over the last month, the sidewalks around Langley City Hall have been in various states of construction. As part of the new Timms Community Centre project, the sidewalks near the facility along Fraser Highway, Douglas Crescent, 204th Street, and 56 Avenue are being replaced.

Once the sidewalk construction is complete, accessibility will be enhanced due to better designed sidewalks. Right now, it is a challenge for people with limit mobility to get around this area.

I’ve been out canvasing in Langley City neighbourhoods for the upcoming by-election, and have heard from people with limited mobility that accessing City Hall and the Library is currently a challenge. I've also heard this from a friend with limited mobility as well.

One of the stories I heard was that the accessible ramp was available in the morning when someone went to visit the library, but was blocked off later in the day due to construction work. This person had to wait around until the ramp was reopened. Another person told me that they almost tipped over on the gravel.

Loose gravel, pylons, and non-level surfaces can make it a challenge for people to navigate an area who have limited mobility. The accessible ramp to City Hall/Library is located where the people hanging around the shopping cart are. Select image to enlarge.

Gravel and non-level surfaces make it tricky to access this business. Select image to enlarge.

Maintaining access to any facility during construction can be a challenges, and maintaining accessible access can be even more challenging. When it comes to the library and City Hall, maintaining accessible access is a must. The library is one of the few indoor public spaces available in Downtown Langley. Likewise, it is important that anyone be able to access City Hall.

Having an accessibility plan during the construction/renovation of an existing facility is critical.

For example during the reconstruction of the Main Street SkyTrain station, accessible street to platform access was maintained. During a recent renovation of the Central City Shopping Centre, there was a clearly marked accessible access route.

Maintaining accessible access to public facilities is critical if we want to build a community where everyone is included.

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