Town of Wolfville Implementing Access By Design Project
By Ethan Lang
Last month the Town of Wolfvilleâ€™s councillors and Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) hosted a meeting to gain input from the public regarding concerns about the Townâ€™s accessibility. The Town and the AAC are currently working alongside the Nova Scotia Accessibility Directorate to implement the Access By Design project, which plans to make Wolfville accessible to all, regardless of any physical or mental disability, by 2030.
Nova Scotia is the third province to adopt an accessibility plan, and Wolfville has been chosen to implement a plan first, as a sort of template to be adopted by other towns in the future. A committee, half of whose members have disabilities themselves or represent organizations representing persons with disabilities, has been comprised to improve and ensure equitable access to life in the community so that all can participate. The plan focuses on equal access to public infrastructure, transportation, goods and services, information, and town employment. All facets of the plan must be in accordance with the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act.
Although the plan terminates in 2030, it must be renewed every three years, with short term priorities currently emphasized for 2019-2022. These priorites include retrofitting public buildings and infrastucture to improve accessibility through such actions as widening doors, building curb cuts and ramps, printing braille on signs, and providing audible warnings at crosswalks and intersections. Private businesses will also receive incentives, such as negotiated changes to zoning rules being offered in exchange for improving accessibility in private buildings.
There will also be efforts to improve transit for those with disabilities. For example, there are currently no accessible taxis operating in Wolfville. The goal is to ensure no resident is denied access to transit or charged extra for transportation because of a disability.
These top priorities, among others, are to be completed by March 31, 2022; goals of lesser urgency are deadlined for 2030. The plan is an ongoing process and citizens are encouraged to contact the AAC or Town Council with concerns as they arise.