Province assessing WIDC accessibility

The Ministry of Citizens' Services said Thursday it is looking into concerns brought forward by Spinal Cord Injury B.C. about the Wood Innovation and Design Centre in downtown Prince George.

"The ministry has plans underway to assess the current condition of the property before the end of September, guided by the current building code standards for accessibility, and will look at all feasible options," an email from the ministry sent to The Citizen said.

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The ministry representative said the province is committed to making sure all buildings they own are accessible to all citizens and the architect met all building code standards during its construction, including accessibility requirements.

"The architect has also confirmed that the exit door with a step is a mechanical room door - not an emergency exit and that there are two accessible entrances to the building with ramps and auto door openers."

A building created with universal accessibility in mind, however, would not include a segregated entrance for disabled people gaining entrance into a building.

"People wouldn't even notice the accessibility of a building in the universal design world," Patrick Harris, Access North Project manager for Spinal Cord Injury BC, said Monday. "There is no signage, no symbols because that's what universal design is all about. Designing the building in such a way that everybody utilizes it the same way."

The Citizen also reached out to the Ministry of Citizens' Services to address the leased building at 1160 Seventh Avenue, which houses a Ministry of Children and Family Development office.

The access to the building was pointed out by the Spinal Cord Injury B.C. representatives on Monday as there is a rather steep slope away from the automatic door heading into the street, instead of having a flat area that would provide some stability to anyone with mobility issues.

"The main door to the building at 1160 Seventh Avenue was recently upgraded and now includes an auto door opener," the ministry representative said in the same email. "The City of Prince George recently replaced the sidewalk outside the building at 1160 7th Ave. While sidewalks are not part of the lease, the province will discuss access and other concerns with the City of Prince George."

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