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Legislation Sets Higher Accessibility Standards to Aid Disabled

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Tactile Pads Crop2
The tacile pads in front of the CRRC in Niverville. (Understandably, the pads are under a lot of snow these days...) Brenda Sawatzky

Beginning January 1, 2023, a new set of codes will come into effect which should help improve life for those with accessibility challenges.

The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) was first enacted into law ten years ago. The goal of the legislation was to work at removing the barriers that make accessibility difficult in both indoor and outdoor public spaces for those experiencing all levels of mobility challenges or sight impairment.

“To develop accessibility standards, the Manitoba government is working with representatives from the disability community, as well as the public and private sectors,” says the AMA website. “Accessibility standards are building blocks for making real, measurable, and effective changes to accessibility. Each standard will outline specific requirements and timelines for organizations that have a responsibility to comply with the AMA.”

At their November 16 public meeting, Niverville council voted in favour of updating local municipal code to include this new legislation.

“The province is requiring all municipalities to have an updated accessibility plan,” CAO Eric King told council.

For Niverville and all municipalities in Manitoba, this means that newly built sidewalks will need to have tactile pads where the sidewalk ends to act as a warning for the visually impaired.

These are brightly coloured pads for those who have nominal vision and are heavily textured so a walking cane can easily pick up the change in surface.

As well, sidewalk slopes will also be regulated to ensure that inclines and declines along sidewalks don’t create difficulty for wheelchair users.

King says the new legislation will affect only new construction. Existing public buildings and exterior infrastructure will fall under the new codes when they undergo repair or replacement in the future.

The Town of Niverville has been actively installing the tactile pads for a number of years. They can be found along most of Main Street and on the sidewalks in and around the CRRC and Niverville High School.

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