The Governance and Priorities Committee (GPC) had a lengthy discussion on Tuesday about a draft of the Barrier Free Policy.
This policy comes at a time when the current Inclusion and Diversity Policy is out of date.
Coun. Jonathan Torresan noted the biggest difference between the draft Barrier Free Policy and the Inclusion and Diversity Policy was the descriptions.
“The Barrier Free was a lot more descriptive as to the specific things the city was going to do and where some of the efforts were going to be dedicated as far as making sure city facilities are accessible to individuals,” he said.
Adding the draft policy also made sure people who are helping individuals with a physical or developmental disability would not be charged a fee for accessing facilities.
“Those are things that were specific that I saw were good, but in the long run after having the conversation with council, I think some of the other councillors were onto something when looking at a broader vision of what inclusion and diversity looks like, and a better way of having a more encompassing policy that would do a lot more, rather than the barrier free, which is very descriptive,” said Torresan.
Coun. Michael Diachuk said the draft Barrier Free Policy speaks to challenges people may face when it comes to access to services, while the Inclusion and Diversity Policy speaks to cognitive challenges.
“They both speak to two parts that are extremely important,” he said.
With a possible new policy, there will also be budgetary aspects, to keep city-owned facilities up-to-date and accessible to all.
“The city has done a number of things at this point. If you look at our sidewalk crossings, making sure they are wheelchair accessible, wheelchair accessible doors on our facilities as well, and there are many programs out there with grants that support those changes, because those changes were enacted after the building code change,” he explained.
Diachuk added adjustments will continue to be made, but not all at once.
City council members noted they would like to see some sort of mix between both policies because they both encompass certain aspects they find valuable.