- Moose Mountain Provincial Park
The National Building Code of Canada (NBC) contains minimum legal requirements for Barrier Free Design for the Disabled for all new buildings, with a few stated exceptions. The new Service Centers are covered by NBC. There are severe penalties for non-compliance documented under The Uniform building and Accessibility Standards Act (UBASA) which can be accessed on-line.
Since the summer of 2010 I have been involved in the accessibility issue with the Ministry of Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sports (TPCS). Prior to the summer, TPCS built two new Service Centers (toilets, showers, hand basins) in Fish Creek Campground. A concerned individual brought to my attention that these Centers did not appear to be accessible. The shower was totally inaccessible. The toilet had very limited accessibility. The basin high but useable. I brought this to the attention of the Park Supervisor and in the early fall a tour of the Service Centers was arranged for Local TPCS staff to document the problems. They submitted a report to Regina TPCS.
No response to this report was received by the spring of 2011. An inquiry to Regina netted me the response that all codes under NBC, UBASA and the standards under the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) had been met but TPCS would make some renovations in the spring of 2012 to one of the two buildings to improve accessibility. They were revising the building plan to include these improvements as it was a prototype to be built in other parks. I did not see how codes were possibly being met as clearly some things were not accessible. I requested TPCS to provide me a copy of the relevant codes, which they did. Review of these codes showed obvious violations. A number of communications occurred with TPCS in which they repeated that all codes had been met but they would improve accessibility in some areas.
During the winter of 2011/2012 I obtained copies of NBC and CSA. In the spring of 2012, with an assistant, I went to the Service Center slated for renovation and did actual measurements, relating to wheelchair use, as per code. Numerous code violations were noted. TPCS had done some renovations which still did not meet code requirements. The specifics of my findings were communicated to TPCS, who even after being told I had the code books, had read them, had done the measurements and had a witness, continued to insist that “all the codes have been met.” TPCS remain firm in their position of only renovating one of the two buildings. I have searched NBC for a clause that would exempt them but can’t find one. My measurements would indicate that all codes have not been met. Continual repetition by government employees that codes have been met will not make it so.
The attitude behind much of the communication and some actual verbal statements, with TPCS is that this is not really of much concern and so what if a few requirements are lacking if most have been met.
For such a building to be constructed is a lengthy process. First an architect/engineering plan must be done which should conform to NBC. A building permit is approved. Construction occurs with inspections at various stages. A final inspection is required when construction is complete. It’s beyond comprehension the degree of incompetency that has and continues to occur throughout this process, most of which are government responsibility. Such buildings are expensive. Cost of renovating a brand new building inexcusable. What a waste of tax monies.
As an aside, the new Service Centers are a cut back in services. Previously, laundry facilities were included. They are no longer, in spite of the sign which indicates they are available.
I find that the lack of attention to the rights of the disabled, the blatant disregard for NBC and abuse of tax money appalling. If you agree, please write Mr. Kevin Doherty, Minister of TPCS, Room 38, Legislature Building, 2405 Legislature Drive, Regina, S4S 0B3. If any of you who are disabled, or those with disabled loved ones, visit other provincial Parks in coming years, please check out any new Service Centers accessibility and let the Minister of TPCS know of any problems you may experience.