Access and accessibility

Northern Sentinel editor weighs in on accessibility in Kitimat.

We are an aging town, it’s true.

Of course I don’t mean chronologically; with each gray hair it’s apparent no one, person or town, is spared from the ticking clock.

What I mean is demographically.

Statistics Canada shows the proof. Between both men and women, in 2011, our population showed shrinkages in all age categories, save for one, those 65 years and wiser. (We all get wiser, not older, correct?)

That demographic went up 16.1 per cent, as each other age group dropped.

(I should also point out I am aware the town is in a different situation this year than 2011, but I better just stick to the known facts for the time being.)

Back to the point at hand, councillors were discussing developments at the last meeting.

Riverbrook Estates is planning to build accessible apartment buildings with elevators, and a few of their townhouse units are anticipated to be “adaptable” which I’ve taken to mean customizable for people with other needs.

On discussion about the proposed townhouse complex on Kingfisher near the golf course, there was a late submission from the developer proposing about 10 units to be accessible.

I did an article a year or two ago about Kitimat’s accessibility and it touched on the fact that there’s a lot of places in town that just aren’t. Even in my personal experience of just pushing a stroller you can see a lot of challenges.

A lot of Kitimat was constructed I’m sure before accessibility was an important factor in development. But next time you step in to your home, think about how challenging it might be if you couldn’t use your two feet.

I think it’s worth a discussion, given all the construction for homes that are proposed to take place over the coming years, to see whether the town should be altering their bylaws to force developers to provide more accessibility in homes.

I’m no home designer, but with a population that’s increasingly getting older, not younger, it should be vital that many homes are designed and built considering accessibility, or at least with an eye to making them, as the word goes, adaptable for future use.

It’s great that developers are making room for accessible units, but it might be time that it becomes the norm, not a selling feature.

Cameron Orr