County honours accessibility committee
Pictured left to right: Councillor Lonny Napper, Chair, County of Lambton Accessibility Advisory Committee; Rob King, Coordinator, Facilities Services, County of Lambton; Heather Allen, Supervisor, Program Review & Compliance, County of Lambton; Luana Cameron, Accessibility Advisory Committee Member; Gord Dingle, Accessibility Advisory Committee Member; and Bill Weber, Warden County of Lambton. (Submitted photo)
The County of Lambton recognized their Accessibility Advisory Committee on Jan. 25, honouring the members with plaques for their outstanding work in the community. The recognition came in light of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which is marked annually on Dec. 3.
The committee is made up of citizens who use their own personal experiences with accessibility as a starting point on how the community can improve.
Coun. Lonny Napper, who chairs the committee, said since their inception in 2004, they’ve removed more than 350 accessibility barriers in buildings owned by the County of Lambton.
Napper said these spaces include libraries, housing and nursing homes, among others. They work together to determine what these obstacles are, and how they can make places more accessible for everyone. Napper noted that whenever a new build comes up for the county, the committee gives their input and looks over the plans to ensure accessibility has been taken into consideration.
“It’s a tremendous committee, and they’re all so devoted,” he said. “They’re very proactive.”
Some of the work they’ve done includes accessible parking, ramps for wheelchair users, and automatic door openers. They’ve also made recommendations to businesses on how they can make their spaces more accessible, and are working to get even more electric wheelchair charging stations installed in municipalities.
Napper, whose wife is a wheelchair user, said accessibility is a cause close to his heart. He knows the stress that can be brought on when someone is unsure if a space will be accommodating. Often, a negative experience when going to an establishment that has barriers may make someone feel isolated from the rest of society. Napper wants to prevent this.
“It’s a big issue, and sometimes it’s just the simplest thing that you can repair,” he said. “This is the most rewarding committee I’ve ever sat on.”
Napper noted that when their committee attends conferences in other towns and cities, he can see that Lambton County is certainly ahead of the curve when it comes to making buildings, parks
and other public spaces accessible. He said he’s continuously impressed by the members’ commitment, and felt it was important that they have some recognition.
“It’s a very active committee and one that I’m always privileged to sit on as chair…they’ve really got their hearts in it,” he said. “We just want to make it so everybody can get out and enjoy themselves, and I think it’s working.”