By Steve Hubrecht

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The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) is looking for volunteers to join the new East Kootenay Accessibility Advisory Committee.

The regional government’s committee forms an umbrella that both the District of Invermere and the Village of Canal Flats will fall under. But they will all be following the footsteps of the Village of Radium Hot Springs, which already formed a similar committee earlier this summer, with the goal of drawing up an official accessibility plan for its community. 

Efforts are moving along quickly in part because they must — the B.C. Accessibility Act requires all local and regional governments in the province to set up accessibility committees, create accessibility plans and develop a mechanism for public feedback about accessibility, all this year.

Local accessibility advocate and Recreation Adapted (RAD) Society founder Tanelle Bolt had pointed out the looming deadline to Invermere council several times over the past year and a half. 

The East Kootenay Accessibility Advisory Committee will help the RDEK and member municipalities identify and address accessibility barriers, said RDEK Community Services Coordinator Sandra Haley, adding that input from the committee will guide the participating local governments in creating an accessibility plan that considers principles such as adaptability, diversity, collaboration, self-determination, and universal design.  

Haley is leading the project on behalf of the participating local governments.

Earlier this summer chief administrative officer of Canal Flats Richard Wayken had noted there are some challenges for smaller communities such as Canal Flats in creating accessibility plans, explaining that “the issue (of accessibility) is just as complex in Canal Flats as in a big city, but we don’t have the same financial resources as a big city.” 

A regional approach could alleviate some of those difficulties, he had said at the time.

 The Village of Radium Hot Springs appointed Radium residents Linda Maurer, Diana Roxas-Brough and September Fleury to its accessibility committee back in mid-June, along with Radium councillor Erin Palashniuk (as a non-voting member of the committee). 

Radium corporate officer Jill Logan and a member of Radium’s public works department are part of the committee in a support capacity. Maurer, Roxas-Brough and Fleury all have experience working with or living with individuals with diverse abilities.

The Radium Accessibility Advisory Committee held its first meeting in July, and has created an online accessibility survey for residents. That survey launched last week and can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/r/CG87RP2.