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Nanaimo Frank Crane Arena, Aquatic Center to be upgraded with accessibility grant

A set of new upgrades are to be made for a few of Nanaimo’s recreational facilities.

Nanaimo’s Aquatic Center and Frank Crane Arena are to be upgraded to help everyone access them easier.

“The whole concept of this is who people with disabilities really are. It’s that idea that it’s not about a few wheelchair users,” said VP Access and Inclusion for the Rick Hansen foundation, Brad McCannell. “So what is it about then? Well, it’s about your mom. It’s about keeping mom in the community. When grandma can’t go to the Frank Crane Arena and watch her grandson play hockey because maybe the sidewalks aren’t safe or the stairs are too scary in the arena or whatever it might be. The moment she can’t do that, a little thread breaks in the community. Right? The more that happens, the more isolated that person becomes.”

This new grant will be giving the city around $82,000 to improve its facilities for everyone to use. The grant itself is relatively new, and this is the first time Nanaimo has qualified for it.

Seven other BC municipalities also qualified, including Coquitlam, Kamloops, Kelowna, Port Moody, Prince George, Richmond and Whistler.

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Two indigenous nations will also receive the grant, but it hasn’t been decided which ones those are yet.

McCannel says to qualify, there has to be initiative shown.

“There’s a training commitment, there’s a site registry commitment there. It’s finding communities that really wanna be involved. Like Vancouver’s adopted the [Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification Program] and so have [others]. When you look at building codes [that] are kind of designed as remedies— but very specific remedies for very specific sites— there’s all kinds of loopholes and considerations you have to take [into account]. Ours is a general program, reference standard, if you will, that overlays any other project and reveals what’s there. The key right now is to identify what’s there and, and understand the difference between code minimum and meaningful access.” 

He says meaningful access is about recognizing more disabilities than just wheelchairs, hand rails in an elevator, or things that might be checked off a building code inspector’s accessibility checklist.

“Well, no, it’s not that feature based approach. Yeah, maybe you have a code compliant washroom, but that’s not the user experience. That whole experience when you come in the front door, you talk to the receptionist, you move through the building… and can you work there if you want, would it be possible to get a job in that site? So the [Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification Program] looks at all of that and, and just establishes your level of accessibility based on that. Both from the staff side and the customer side.”

The full interview with Brad McCannell regarding accessibility is available below.

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