Chilliwack – During the December 7 Council meeting, the City of Chilliwack announced that the Cheam Leisure Centre has achieved a Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certified Gold rating under the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification™ (RHFAC) program
RHFAC helps improve accessibility in the places people live, work, learn, and play. The rating and Gold certification covers the entire 45,000 square-foot building, including the gymnasium, weight room, squash courts, change rooms, washrooms, meeting room, child minding room, swimming pools, and reception area. The outside area, including the entrances, parking lots, pathways, transit stops, and outdoor play area are also covered.
In order to receive Gold level rating, several accessibility improvements needed to happen, including:
- The addition of four new automatic door openers
- Added proximity sensors on existing door openers
- Exterior large facility signage on side entrances
- New concrete wheelchair letdown
- The creation of two new fully accessible washrooms in the basement, with emergency assistance systems
- Braille wayfinding signage
- Creation of area of refuge, complete with communications in the gym area
The Mayor’s Task Force on Inclusiveness, Diversity, and Accessibility (MTFIDA) was established in the spring of 2020 to provide advice to Council on strategies to reduce social, physical and psychological barriers that prevent people from fully participating in all aspects of community life. In February 2021, the MTFIDA Action Plan was released with goals and action items to move towards those goals.
“One of the goals of the MTFIDA Action Plan is to improve the City’s facilities, services, parks, and public spaces for persons with disabilities,” said Mayor Popove. “This certification is a small step in the direction we want to go to make our facilities more accessible.”
“Congratulations to the City of Chilliwack for achieving our Foundation’s Accessibility Certified Gold rating for the Cheam Leisure Centre. By committing to ensuring all municipal spaces are accessible, the 1 in 5 Canadians living with a disability will feel included in all aspects of their communities. I know Chilliwack’s leadership will inspire others to better understand how inclusive their buildings are and I look forward to the day when all municipalities make this a standard policy for all buildings.” Rick Hansen, Founder, Rick Hansen Foundation.
“I would like to thank the City of Chilliwack for their efforts in upgrading the Cheam Centre to the gold standard,” said Jim Ryan, the local Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Professional who completed the grading assessment of the leisure centre over the summer. “Actively working towards creating greater accessibility in our community is very important to me. Next, I hope to work with residential developers on making apartments and condos more accessible. Finding accessible housing can be a huge barrier for people with access needs.” More information about Jim and his work in the community can be found at rollingthrough.life.
City staff will continue to investigate opportunities to make additional City facilities more accessible. To learn more about the Mayor’s Task Force on Inclusion, Diversity, and Accessibility Action Plan, please visit chilliwack.com/inclusion.