The City of Greater Sudbury is prioritizing accessibility. They had done quite a bit of work in the community over the past few years to improve access and inclusion, so when the Ontario government made the announcement in 2020 that provided funding for 250 sites in 16 select municipalities to get rated through the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification™ (RHFAC) program, they were excited by the chance to continue their accessibility journey.
“[It is a] good opportunity to highlight some of the work we have done but also a good benchmarking opportunity to see where we were at in terms of accessibility and identify areas we could improve on,” said Danielle Derochie, Legislative Compliance Coordinator at the City of Greater Sudbury.
Through the rating process, the City of Greater Sudbury had 17 sites rated for their level of accessibility, seven of which achieved RHF Accessibility Certification.
A Part of The Journey
Derochie said that the process itself was helpful because “it allows us to demonstrate to residents and tourists that we have accessible sites, and it also reinforces the good work we have done with our Accessibility Advisory Panel to date and provides us a way forward.”
One site that Derochie highlighted was the Bell Park site. Bell Park is a highly used space on the edge of Ramsey Lake. Improving accessibility at Bell Park was one of the bigger projects that the City undertook, according to Derochie. This site was one of the ones that achieved certification through RHF, although the upgrades were done previously, led by the City’s Accessibility Advisory Panel. The certification process affirmed that they were on the right track when it came to their upgrades.
“There are 330 lakes in the community and Bell Park is the centre of that,” Derochie said of the importance of this space.
The accessibility project involved upgrading the washroom and changeroom at the site to include a lift, accessible shower, and adult change tables. They worked on visual cues and wayfinding and on the beach itself the City improved egresses and paths of travel. The City also invested in beach wheelchairs for patrons that allow visitors to the park to cross the sand and float in the water independently.
“Accessibility is important to the City of Greater Sudbury because we want to be a place for residents and visitors to take part in all facets of life here. It is the government’s responsibility to make sure these needs are being met and people are able to partake in all facets of life, regardless of age or ability,” Derochie noted.
“You never want a scenario where someone can’t partake in something they want to. We want everyone to feel like a part of the community.”
The Journey Continues
Moving forward, the City of Greater Sudbury wants to take what they have learned from the rating process and create a roadmap to improve access across the City, beginning with making changes to the sites that were rated.
“There’s always more to do and we can always push to make things more accessible and see what else is possible. The rating gave us the roadmap that allowed us to do just that,” Derochie said. “We want to continue to make our community more and more accessible for residents and visitors.”
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support for the BC Accessibility Grant Program from the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Social Development & Poverty Reduction.