Cumberland wants to make itself more accessible for people facing physical challenges.
Making businesses more open for everyone was one of the principles behind council’s accessibility and inclusion committee.
“That was one of the initial tasks assigned to the accessibility committee,” corporate officer Rachel Parker said at the Jan. 10 council meeting.
In 2016, the village put together a 10-year accessibility plan, though one of the challenges in recent years, Parker said, was the folding of the chamber of commerce, meaning there was no forum to distribute the information. However, with the new Cumberland Business Association, there is an opportunity to coordinate an effort to make businesses easier to negotiate for people facing physical challenges.
The issue for council at the meeting was whether to endorse an idea for its committee to liaise with the CBA over the matter. Included in the council package was a brochure with a checklist and other information for businesses to consider.
“It’s really nice to see this coming back and getting into the community,” Coun. Sean Sullivan said, pointing to the brochure.
Coun. Jesse Ketler raised a question about existing standards and what is built into processes for business licences when sites are inspected for safety.
Parker said they could consider it as another tool, though there might be some issues.
“It’s a bit challenging with existing structures and buildings,” she said. “If a building isn’t doing any alterations, there’s no requirement to make any updates to the structure.”
However, any changes to the structure would have to meet the B.C. Building Code, which was updated recently to take accessibility into account. Parker said this would be administered through the building code and building permit changes.
Economic development officer Kaelin Chambers said one opportunity will be to get information into the hands of new businesses when they take out a licence.
Another challenge, as Sullivan pointed out, was that in many cases the owners of business do not own the buildings.
At the end of the discussion, council passed the motion to endorse the plan for the committee to work with the CBA on the issue.
Coun. Vickey Brown, who sits on the committee, said, “We’ve started to build that relationship, and I think that this just allows us to continue to collaborate with them.”