Council has adopted an accessbility policy to ensure equity and access for people with disabilities are a priority in the work it does.
18/11/2014 12:00 a.m.
Whangarei District Council has committed to a policy that will ensure it makes equity and access for people with disabilities a priority in the work it does.
The Accessibility Policy covers all facilities owned or managed by Council, including public places, parks and reserves, the roading network including footpaths, Council services, Council processes and projects and Council-run events.
Developed in consultation with Council’s Disability Advisory Group (DAG), the policy expresses the commitments, strategies and approaches taken towards providing more equity for disabled people, and describes those already undertaken at a local, national and international level.
Chairman of the DAG, and CEO of Tiaho Trust Jonny Wilkinson said adopting the policy was a poignant moment for the group. “It consolidates and formalises ten years of work by the DAG. It represents credible recognition of the group and the value it adds to Council business.
“It formalises Council’s commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities ratified by Government in 2008, and the District’s aim to create the ultimate living environment.” Mr Wilkinson said the policy would ensure that public amenities are built with accessibility in mind.
“That approach is cost effective for Council, ratepayers and developers. It benefits both the able and disabled community because it gives everyone better access to services.
“It means buildings will be developed with accessibility in mind not have to be expensively corrected after things are set in concrete (literally).”
Community Services Adviser, Carla Janssen said there were practical benefits to the policy in that it is important to the ‘sense of place’ work Council does.
“Sense of place is about creating the conditions for Whangarei to be somewhere people thrive, have lots of opportunities, enjoy living and are able to be active members of the community. Belonging is fundamental to that.
“To feel included people need to be able to participate. To participate, they must have access to the facilities and services that everyone else in the community has access to.” She said surveys undertaken in September and October 2013 indicated that the Whangarei community has strong expectations of the District Council to provide an accessible environment and is receptive to the needs of the disability sector.