News 06:00 AM by John Edwards Simcoe.com
Heather Prosser’s friend recently passed away.
When family and friends gathered at the Sunnidale Hall to pay their respects and share stories, she was unable to attend.
Prosser, who has arthritis in her hip and shoulder and other ailments, uses a walker to get around and is unable to make it up the stairs at the hall.
“I couldn’t attend. I couldn’t get in,” she said. “There were those people I would have liked to have talked to and catch up with what is going on in their lives, and I couldn’t.”
Recently Clearview Township received a report that showed it will take about $8 million to upgrade all of the small halls in the municipality to be compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
The township will be holding public sessions in the coming months on how to move forward.
“This is taxpayer money and they are taxpayer halls, I think we need to hear from them,” CAO Steve Sage said at a recent council meeting.
He said the township also needs to take a long look at the lifespan of some of the buildings.
“We’re going to be talking about investing millions of dollars in some buildings that are over 70 years old,” he said.
Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson recently called on the government in the legislature to assist Clearview Township.
“Will the township have to close the halls or will the Ontario government help to keep them open?” Wilson asked. “Will there be any stopgap measures that can be undertaken that would allow the municipality to prioritize renovations?
“While the township values these facilities and wants to do the right thing to keep them open, the cost may be too prohibitive. These buildings are important to the communities they serve. They are the lifeblood of rural Ontario in the areas they serve, and they’re significant to my riding. As such, I look forward to the government’s response to this important issue.”
Prosser said she would like to attend more events at the halls, but is unable to do so.
“I haven’t been to a small hall festival because I can’t get in,” she said. “I’m not a big card player but if somebody said to me, ‘Would you like to go play cards at the hall tonight?’ I might do that, but I can’t get in.”
by John Edwards
John Edwards is a reporter at The Connection, covering Collingwood and The Blue Mountains You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org .