Published on: February 14, 2020
Renovations creating a new entrance, adding accessible washrooms and an elevator at the downtown Sarnia Library are expected to wrap up soon, Sarnia’s accessibility co-ordinator says.
“We hit a little bit of a snag with the washrooms,” said Dale Mosley “Just some plumbing issues, but we’re back on track now so it should be done by, I’m thinking, the first week of March, the washrooms.”
The main entrance and elevators are on schedule to be finished next week in the $335,000 project that began last September, he said.
Those improvements are part of a handful of accessibility upgrades eyed in the city for 2020, including at least one audio signal for the visually impaired at a pedestrian crosswalk.
There’s $200,000 budgeted for installing the call signals that tell people with sight impairments when it’s safe to cross and speed up as time starts to run out similar to the visual flashing hand signal.
Mosley said he’s heard from residents they’d like to see one at Colborne Road and Cathcart Boulevard, but a committee is going to meet first to identify the greatest need, he said. It’s unclear yet how much it will cost per intersection, he said. “We’ll go one at a time and figure out from there how it’s going to work.”
Sarnia’s accessibility advisory committee, which works closely with Age-Friendly Sarnia, hosted an accessibility summit in 2019 and was included as part of a provincial accessibility committee. The committee and the city accomplished a lot during the year, including the installation of a bus stop at the Strangway Centre, the institution of lower fares for seniors on buses, hosting an Age-Friendly Expo, the launch of a home-share pilot matching students with seniors for light housework, new wayfinding signs downtown, and the addition of an accessible washroom at the Cox Youth Centre Pool and Splashpad, a recent report to council says.
“We continue to accomplish a lot of different things with accessibility in the City of Sarnia, and looking forward to 2020 where it looks like we’re going to be accomplishing more,” Mosley said.
A new ramp at the Lawrence House is planned, likely for the fall, Mosley said.
Unexpected complications with the work related to reconfiguring the way it drains caused the cost to increase and the planned 2019 project to be delayed, he said.
The amount budgeted in 2020 is $240,000, Mosley said, up from $100,000.
“As it turned out, the drain wasn’t where we thought it was going to go,” he said, meaning the whole parking lot has to be dug up to fix the issue.
The city also intends to install a launch for kayaks and canoes in Sarnia Bay that’s equipped with a stabilizer for the boats, handrails and a ramp, as well as plans to expand training for summer students on how to care for camp kids with disabilities and mental illnesses.
There’s $130,000 budgeted for an accessible washroom at the East Street fire hall, and preparations are underway to develop new guiding documents for accessibility and age-friendly initiatives before the end of the year when the current plans end, he said.
Committees for accessibility and Age-Friendly Sarnia will decide for how long to make those plans, he said.
“It might be three to five years, but both committees have to make that decision.”
The city is currently going out for tender for an architect for drawings for possible accessibility improvements at the Bright’s Grove Library.
How big that project will go Gallery in the Grove officials have suggested creating a community hub will depend on what council says when they get the report, Mosley said.
Another report, on the demand for accessible taxis in the city, is expected within the next couple of months, he said.
Feedback from the community has been solicited, he said, and there’s a meeting planned with local taxi company owners Feb. 25 at 5:30 p.m. in city hall committee room two.
The city’s annual accessibility awards are also expanding, he said. Nominations are now open year-round.
“Mostly to promote the awards just so we can get as many nominations as we did last year and keep that momentum going,” said Mosley, noting plans are also to periodically feature past winners.
Nine awards were presented in 2019.
This year’s are being presented Oct. 5, he said.
To make a nomination, visit https://www.sarnia.ca/living-here/2019-sarnia-accessibility-awards/.