By Kirk Starratt
People of all abilities will get to enjoy the new Louis Millett Community Complex, thanks to accessibility features designed to maximize inclusion.
Although they’ve yet to hold their official grand opening, the Village of New Minas’ new recreation and administrative centre has already won an award. The facility has been named the winner of the 2012 Universal Accessibility Contest, facilitated by Kings Physiotherapy Clinic in conjunction with National Occupational Therapy Month in October.
“I think this solidifies the reasoning we took on the project,” said New Minas recreation director John Ansara, who accepted the award on behalf of the village Oct. 31.
“He (Louis Millett) wanted a community building. Hopefully this fully-accessible building was what he had in mind.”
The village’s facility team communicated with Roscoe Construction and Harvey Architecture early on that it was important for the building to be designed with accessibility in mind.
Ansara said the positive response to the new facility the village has already received demonstrates how welcome it is.
Ansara agreed the recognition sends a clear message that all community members, regardless of ability, are welcome and encouraged to visit and make full use of the 26,000 square-foot complex.
Some key features making the facility so accessible include beaver-tail, or lever-style, door handles. There are three sets of automatic doors, wide hallways providing adequate turning radius for people using mobility devices such as wheelchairs, lots of open space, bright lighting and an outside ramp with a roof leading from the civic centre to the gymnasium.
Kings Physiotherapy Clinic occupational therapist Alison Hallam said you can always look for ways to make changes and improve accessibility, whether your building is old or new. She was impressed also to see accessible showers in each changing room, what she called one of the most eye-catching accessibility features.
“It’s so rare to see a fully-accessible shower in a public place,” Hallam said.
She said one of the most fun accessible features she saw is the scooter hockey equipment, perhaps best described as indoor sledge hockey. It uses scooter boards and plastic hockey sticks.
To watch a video tour of the new Louis Millett Community Complex highlighting many of its accessible features, visit www.kingscountynews.ca. The grand opening is set for Nov. 15 from 3 to 7 p.m.