By Mark Squibb
The acceptance of a new accessibility plan sparked some discussion amongst members of Spaniard’s Bay council about the potential need for an elevator in the municipal building.
“Over the last number of years, we’ve made some big efforts in making our properties accessible,” said Mayor Paul Brazil ahead of acceptance of the new plan. “Just last year we upgraded the entrance to this building, and a few years ago we did similar work at the recreation building.”
Councillor Paul Ryan asked about an elevator at the two-storey Town Hall, and Mayor Brazil said the idea had never been discussed, adding the activities of the upper level are usually independent of the activities of the lower level and both levels are accessible.
For those not familiar with the building, the upper level opens onto the parking lot, while the land slopes downward to the lower entrances at the back of the building. A number of private businesses rent office space at both levels.
Brazil suggested that should the need for an elevator ever arise, it could be discussed at a future date.
Town Manager Tony Ryan said he didn’t see a need for an elevator in the building and added the cost would be astronomical.
Still, Councillor Ryan allowed that a situation could arise where an employee with disabilities could require the use of an elevator.
Town Manager Ryan said council could address the matter should it arise.
“Generally, the rule of thumb when you get into accessibility issues, is that you have to weigh the cost of what they call ‘undue hardship,’ which is when something becomes so expensive that you can’t bear it, then it becomes not feasible,” said Ryan. “And then you look for a suitable work-around.”
Mayor Brazil added that new buildings are built to a stricter code, but the shortcomings of older buildings are often grandfathered in.
Council, meanwhile, accepted the new accessibility plan, the details of which were not discussed during the meeting.