An application for funding has been approved that will bring accessibility upgrades to the Pemberton and District Community Centre (PDCC) and Public Library.
The funding, obtained through the Employment and Social Development of Canada’s Enabling Accessibility Fund, was presented to the Village of Pemberton (VOP) mayor and council at the Nov. 16 meeting by the VOP’s Manager of Recreation Christine Burns and Library Director Emma Gillis.
In 2018, the Rick Hansen Foundation conducted an accessibility audit of the PDCC and made recommendations that users of the library would benefit by “having an improved access to the main entrance” and by “providing a manual power-operated button for the library.”
From these recommendations, Burns signed off on the application for funding to make these necessary changes in the spring of 2020. After initially being denied, additional funding had become available in August of 2021, and the original 2020 application was approved, awarding the library $100,000 to “undertake accessible upgrades to the PDCC building.”
In their report, Burns and Gillis outlined three objectives for the upcoming project including:
• Improved access to the building from the south side, improved safety for emergency evacuations by installing a ramp, and replacing existing exterior doors with accessible doors;
Improved internal access to the library by replacing the existing interior entrance doors with accessible doors;
• Improved external access to the library by replacing the current fire door at the south entrance with an accessible door, and adding accessible component to the main PDCC doors at south end.
“For a long time the accessibility on the southern side of the building has been a challenge, particularly during fire evacuations,” said Gillis.
“That was one of the things that was really brought out from the Rick Hansen grant and when we have had fire drills, generally we’ve had seniors and people with infants, and they’ve always ironically happened in bad weather.
“We’ve had to assist people up nine steps to get to our muster point. So that’s long been a challenge on that site just with where our fire escape is and where our muster point is.
“And so that’s always been a really key goal for us … It is one of those things when there’s an evacuation, that typically happens when you’ve got your most vulnerable population in the space. And the side of the building that we’re using is just not very accessible for people with mobility issues.”
According to Burns, they are currently in the process of receiving quotes for costs of the renovations and contractor drawings of the new additions, but it is believed that the $100,000 grant will cover all the expenses anticipated for this project.
While mayor and council also believe the proposed project is much needed for the PDCC, with Mayor Mike Richman calling it a “win-win” for everybody, Councillor Craddock raised the question of adding an accessible parking stall to the newly accessible side of the building.
“Right now to access that building, people are parking all the way around the building to get in,” he said. “So I think it’d be a really good thing to do. I know it’s a highway road out the front, but people park along and it would certainly be nice to have at least one spot designated for that situation.”
To Craddock’s suggestion, Chief Administrative Officer Nikki Gilmore noted that because the road on the south side of the building falls under Ministry of Transportation jurisdiction, it’s typically not an eligible spot that can be designated for accessible parking, even if parking is allowed on the road.
In the end, mayor and council received the report and Burns and Gillis will move forward with the project while keeping the councillor’s suggestions in mind.