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Design of Public Spaces in the Built Environment In Ontario Just Released

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Design of Public Spaces in the Built Environment

The draft standards for the Built Environment are now available for public review and comment. OPC recommends your business review these and provide comments. 

The Ministry of Community and Social Services has just released the draft standards for the Built Environment for public spaces. These standards will have either a direct or indirect impact on workplaces in Ontario. Based on this fact we strongly recommend our clients and employers in Ontario familiarize themselves with this document (OPC can also provide you with a summary of the document if you would prefer). Public responses can occur until October 1, 2012 by emailed the government at designofpublicspaces@ontario.ca.

The goal of the province in using the Accessibility Standards for the Built Environment is to remove barriers in public spaces and buildings. This will make it easier for all Ontarians — including people with disabilities, seniors and families — to access the places where they work, travel, shop and play.

A few things to think about as you read the documents or the OPC summary includes;

1. Disability is not just about people in a wheelchair. It includes Ontarians’ with low vision, deaf, deafened and hard of hearing, intellectual disabilities, mental & psychological impairments, people with temporary disabilities etc.

2. The standards for public spaces will only apply to new construction and planned redevelopment.

3. Enhancements to accessibility in buildings will happen at a later date through Ontario’s Building Code, which governs new construction and renovations in buildings.

4. Improved design of public spaces is not just to the benefit of the disabled. When a public space is well designed including lighting, way finding and signage, colour contrast of stairs for example this enhances the use of the space by all people & prevents human error & accidents during its use.

5. Improved design of public spaces will allow the province and businesses to earn a reputation for being accessible which will drive more business and money to the province and private companies.

What the standards cover

Here are the highlights of what the standards for public spaces will cover:

    • Recreational trails/beach access routes.
      Meet minimum requirements for trails and beach access routes (i.e. clear width), post signs with specific information at the start of trails (this will be a great help to people like me who have been known to become lost when running some trails!)
    • Outdoor public-use eating areas like rest stops or picnic areas
      Provide a minimum number of accessible tables
    • Outdoor play spaces, like playgrounds in provincial parks and local communities.
      Consult with people with disabilities to help to incorporate accessibility for children and caregivers with various disabilities into play & sports spaces
    • Exterior paths of travel, like sidewalks, ramps, stairs, curb ramps, rest areas and accessible pedestrian signals
      Meet minimum requirements for sidewalks (i.e. clear width), install accessible pedestrian signals at intersections, slope and lengths of ramps, height and contrast colours on stairs
    • Accessible parking (on and off street)
      Make four percent of spaces accessible in new lots with 25-500 parking spaces; ensure the parking spots are clearly marked and easy to access
  • Service-related elements like service counters, fixed queuing lines and waiting areas
    Have a minimum of one accessible counter when providing services to the public. Retail banking, retailers and kiosk based businesses such as mobile phone kiosks, hotels take note as this will have a significant impact on the design of service counters and how you design the areas where your customers will wait for service.
  • Maintenance of accessible equipment, features in each of these areas described above will need to be maintained at all times

The standards will apply to:

  • Ontario government
  • broader public sector (e.g. universities, hospitals, municipalities)
  • private and not-for-profit sector organizations.

The draft standards also propose minor technical amendments to the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation to:

  • clarify some of the requirements
  • make it easier for organizations to implement them

The consulting team at Optimal Performance can provide your business with the draft standards, a summary of the standards, our feedback we will provide to the Ministry about the standards. Our team is also available to provide presentations to your association, group and Senior Managers at a time which is convenient to your group.

Contact Olga Dosis or Jane Sleeth at OPC AODA@OptimalPerformance.ca or 1 888 768-2106Image
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