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Accessibility plan adopted by City of Powell River Council

Strategy developed with qathet Regional District and public library
REMOVING BARRIERS: An accessibility plan developed between City of Powell River, qathet Regional District and Powell River Public Library was adopted by city councillors, to meet the requirements of provincial legislation.

City of Powell River councillors have approved an accessibility plan as stipulated under the Accessible British Columbia Act.

The accessibility plan was developed by the city, qathet Regional District and Powell River Public Library.

Deputy corporate officer Jessica Lefort, at the February 15 city council meeting, said the city had been legislated by the province to have an accessibility plan in place by September of 2023, so the city was a bit behind in its adoption. She said on January 25, the joint accessibility and inclusion advisory committee approved the plan.

“This will serve as a living document that can be adjusted as needed, based on feedback from the public and advisement from the committee,” said Lefort.

“Further to what is in the report, the Powell River Public Library board adopted the plan, and it’s intended to go to qathet Regional District’s board at the end of the month for adoption.”

Lefort said the document was a three-year plan and that each organization would be reporting to the committee quarterly regarding progress being made.

Councillor Trina Isakson said there are implications to the accessibility plan that come with a price tag.

“I’m wondering if there is clarity on any funding from other levels of government to support the city in implementing some of the recommendations,” said Isakson.

Lefort said at this point, no.

“As they roll out the enforcement of the Accessibility Act, we’re hoping that when they move to enforcement implementation of the plans we’ve had to produce, funding will come with it,” said Lefort.

City councillor Rob Southcott said he liked the report, and that it was comprehensive, but concise. He added that in the report, it said the city provides services to almost 14,000 residents, but in fact, the city provides services to the entire region.

Councillor Cindy Elliott said accessibility is something she cares about. She said she wondered if the scope of the plan was focused on mainly physical accessibility and mobility, or if other accessibility challenges were considered.

Lefort said there was an active and passionate membership on the accessibility committee, all with lived experience.

“Those were all considerations,” said Lefort. “Things like applying for jobs or paying for services online – we’ll be looking at all kinds of different disabilities.”

Mayor Ron Woznow said a significant number of members of the community have contributed to helping the city understand the importance of accessibility.

“I would like to acknowledge the work that Dave and Marg Hodgins have done for a long time,” said Woznow.

Isakson said the committee is interested in hearing from more members of the public who experience barriers because of disabilities, or care for people who do.

“There’s more work they may do over time,” said Isakson. “I highly encourage council to attend one of their meetings.”

Council unanimously adopted the city’s accessibility plan.

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