Terry Vandale of Elkford was requested by the District of Elkford council to provide input on accessibility in town. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)

Terry Vandale of Elkford was requested by the District of Elkford council to provide input on accessibility in town. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)

‘Room for growth’: Elkford moves to address accessibility in town

The District of Elkford council voted to establish a committee to look into the issue

The District of Elkford is taking formal steps to address the issue of accessibility in town.

At a district council meeting on Monday, Dec. 13, councillors voted in favour of the establishment of an accessibility task force/committee to look more closely into the issue and consider options for addressing it.

“Accessibility refers to the ability of seniors and people with disabilities or health and activity limitations to get around their community and lead active, healthy fulfilling and engaged lives,” reads the report to council on the subject.

Councillor Mandy McGregor said it was important to hear from those who have direct accessibility needs.

“We can’t assume that what we’re going to do is what’s going to make it better for them. We have to have that dialogue,” she said.

Council requested thoughts on the matter from local Terry Vandale, who uses a wheelchair due to multiple sclerosis.

“I think we need a committee. I think it would be very beneficial at this stage to reach out to (Vandale) as a starting point, because she’s been so open, and find out who out there is being negatively affected by how our community is being built.”

In an interview with The Free Press, Vandale said “it’s a challenge for sure” to get around town on a wheelchair.

“We definitely need some work on many areas in town,” she said.

Sidewalks, doorways, parking spaces, and bathrooms are among the kinds of areas where accessibility can be an issue.

Elkford Square, for example, where many stores and services are in town, is lacking in terms of accessibility, according to Vandale.

“Getting into any store except the Kootenay Market is almost impossible.”

The Elkford Community Conference Centre provides a good example of accessibility done right, she said.

“The handicap parking stalls are right there.

“ here’s a huge ramp for you to go up. Buttons to push for both doors. And the bathrooms are accessible. Everything’s flat.”

Accessibility is not only about people with disabilities, she said.

“It’s about the whole town, and as a whole makes it safer for them to be walking the trails, walking around town.”

Elkford started out as a mining camp in the 1970s.

Accessibility wasn’t at the forefront of peoples’ minds then, she said.

“It’s a great, young town. So it does have some movement and room for growth for sure.”

Vandale said she is “happy to help with the issues.”

“I just appreciate the District of Elkford reaching out to try to make this a better accessible town.”

Accessibility