Millions needed to make Thunder Bay buildings more accessible
Recent architectural study reports 18 city operated buildings need upgrades
An audit of city facilities in Thunder Bay shows $5 million in improvements are needed to make them more accessible for people with disabilities.
According to the accessibility study — which looks at things like whether there's enough lighting for people who have a hard time seeing, and if alarms have flashing lights to alert those who can't hear them — the Canada Games complex is just one of 18 buildings that need work.
A spokesperson for the city's Accessibility Advisory Committee said she feels there should be more signs that can be read by touch.
"One of my personal issues is the lack of tactile signing, and there are just some many places where there is no tactile signage and I don't know why," said Tessa Soderberg, who is visually impaired.
Another place where Soderbeg said signs are needed is City Hall.
As the population ages, accessible design of city buildings is increasingly important, said Jesse Klimitz, Accessibility Specialist with Quadrangle Architects, which prepared the report in conjunction with the March of Dimes.
"Designing for accessibility is important because it provides full inclusion of people with disability and full inclusion of those in society who may be often overlooked," he said.
"There's statistics showing how quick the population is growing and how this will have immense impacts on the places on the places people work, people play, and where people live," Klimitz added.
The audit used draft standards related to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
Soderberg said the goal of the act is to have Ontario fully accessible by 2025. She said the city is making a serious attempt to accommodate as many people as possible. But Soderberg added "There's instances where things are done incorrectly...[like] door openers that are too close to the door so that the person who pushes it gets hit by the door when it's opening."
Thunder Bay city council votes on a new accessibility plan at its next meeting.