Accessibility a priority for Kirkland Lake

KIRKLAND LAKE - Accessibility remains a priority for Kirkland Lake.

A report brought forward during the municipality's council meeting on Tuesday (Feb. 20) listed upgrades made during 2023 to prevent and remove barriers.

Two barrier-free slider doors were installed at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex to access the arena from the lobby. In the washrooms, accessible push buttons for the entrance doors were installed.

Other accessible upgrades made to the arena included internal illuminated ‘running man’ exit signage installation, paving the designated accessible parking spot and installing the respective signage.

“I watched a woman who has a disability, and she's a very proud lady, she doesn't want to ask for help, and she had a young boy who played hockey and I used to watch her struggle with those doors. She didn't want my help. Now, it's just so wonderful. She can enter that arena with dignity. You know, she can go in that arena,” said Coun. Rick Owen.

Town clerk Jennifer Montreuil's report also noted that the pedestrian crosswalk at Queen Street and Woods Street was changed to a four-way stop, with overhead mid-intersection beacons to 'all red’. The concrete sidewalk on the southwest corner of the intersection that leads to St. Jerome School was also reinstalled.

Repairs to existing audible crosswalks heads at the intersection of Duncan Avenue and Government Road East were also on Montreuil’s list.

The report is part of the town’s multi-year accessibility plan.

In 2014 Kirkland Lake released its first multi-year accessibility plan in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR).

The AODA was passed in 2005 with the vision of creating a fully accessible Ontario by 2025.

According to Montreuil, accessibility concerns noted in 2023 included dangers associated with personal mobility devices, such as wheelchairs, e-bikes, mopeds and Segways, on provincially and municipally maintained roadways, accessible parking in the downtown core at various locations, and placement of waste canisters.

Coun. Lad Shaba raised concerns of the accessibility within town hall.

“I'm very worried about the accessibility needs, particularly in this building. In spite of the fact that we have an elevator, and we now know that the elevator will be off and on for some on repairs and whatnot, I've got a lot of calls about the elevator being down and people not having access to city hall,” he said.

“It, to me, is a great concern… This is an aging community, we have a lot of older people.”

It’s a supply and demand issue, said Montreuil.

“We can't go further than the supplier ordering parts. We have in place a non-barrier service delivery when the elevator is down. If people want to come for an RFP opening at town hall, we can have it on the main level or we can publicize it. Same thing with council meetings and electronic participation is available,” she said.

“In terms of paying the bills, we have discussed this with our senior management team from now until May when the new elevator is supposed to come into the building. So as far as I know, after the budget season, to remove the amount of disruption of staff and the budget process, the new elevator will be going into the building. Until that time, you will have accessible alternatives for the public to be able to come.”

Montreuil said administration is “conducting a fulsome review of the town's current parking bylaw, and it's hopeful to bring forward some recommended changes in 2024.”

“And, as always members of the public are welcome to provide comments on this report and any accessibility matters in general in the town as feedback can provide administration the ability to measure the town's continued commitment in providing barrier-free services and service delivery,” she said.

Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative, TimminsToday.com