By Terry Bridge, Stratford Beacon Herald
Wednesday, December 13, 2017 2:58:56 EST PM
Peter Zein presents the accessible business award on behalf of Stratford’s accessibility advisory committee and the city to Bard’s on Market Square and The Hub owner Kevin Larson on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017 in Stratford, Ont.
There’s a common refrain Peter Zein hears from business owners when it comes to improving accessibility.
“They can’t do it, it’s an older building,” said Zein, a member of Stratford’s accessibility advisory committee. “Get that all the time.”
Kevin Larson has proven that notion wrong, and the public has noticed. When the committee put out a call for nominations for this year’s accessible business award, one name kept coming up.
Two, actually: Bard’s on Market Square and The Hub.
“Nominations came in like crazy for this restaurant,” Zein said. “I don’t know how many we got, but quite a few.”
As a result, the building located at 27 Market Place was announced as the 2017 winner during Monday night’s city council meeting. On a frigid Wednesday morning, Zein and Larson met with the Beacon Herald inside the restaurant to discuss the award and the importance of accessibility.
Zein, who has extensive experience in accessibility advisory roles across North America, raved about the setup.
“I don’t usually say such good things, I’m usually very critical of buildings and things they can improve,” he said.
Larson both men frequently brought up the Ontario Building Code and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act pointed out it’s vital to prepare for an aging population that will see an increase in disabilities.
“Which means we need to make sure we have buildings accessible,” he said.
Zein was impressed with having such an old building it was built between 1890 and 1898, Larson said brought up to and in some cases surpass certain standards. Renovations to the 17,000-square-foot space took just under two years to complete.
“It was a big build,” Larson said. “I’ve learned so much through this process.”
The Limited Use Limited Application (LULA) elevator was installed in July 2016. The device uses hydraulics as opposed to a pulley system due to the age of the building and limited basement space. Its design, however, means it moves slowly it takes about 90 seconds to move between floors.
“But it gets you from point A to point B,” Larson said.
Elsewhere, the facility has multiple ramps, bathrooms equipped with automatic doors, an accessible rooftop patio and basement wine cellar, and mobile tables and chairs.
Crunch Fitness in Stratford, formerly World Gym, received an honourable mention from the committee.
The award coincides with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Dec. 3. Last year’s winner was Avondale United Church.