A presentation from the St. James United Church Social Justice Committee, especially emotional words from well-known local artist and author Anne Camozzi who joined the proceedings via skype, had Antigonish Town Council considering their actions so far, when it comes to accessibility around the community.
The presentation took place during council’s June 17 regular monthly public meeting. Michelle Ashby read the presentation but most councillors and Mayor Laurie Boucher directed their questions and statements to Camozzi whose illness has restricted her to a wheelchair.
Camozzi poignantly pointed out how the lack of accessible infrastructure in the town means she and so many others can’t enjoy its amenities, and that changes, improvements, need to happen.
“Is there room to grow, absolutely; that was well pointed out during tonight’s council meeting,” Boucher said to reporters following the meeting, adding that she feels Deputy Mayor Donnie MacInnis and the accessibility committee have done a “great job.”
“We’re well on our way.”
Boucher talked about the accessibility pilot project introduced in the Town of Wolfville last year with the goal of creating, as noted on Wolfville’s website, a “barrier-free community and ensuring obligations under An Act Respecting Accessibility in Nova Scotia (2017) are met.”
“The reason the province gave the pilot project to Wolfville was so they could create a template for other municipalities to follow,” she said.
“We’re going to take full advantage of that and, over the next year, we’ll work on an accessible plan for us.”
In talking about the committee, Boucher noted how they started out with certain projects that had to get done and made that their focus.
“There was so much to do; it was a little overwhelming that we had to do a few things first. Now, we can sit back and look at a plan of how to make this town more accessible for not only people who live within our town, but for county people who patronize our businesses and use our downtown, and tourists coming in; making a design that allows everyone to use our town to its full extent.”
A positive update on the skate-park during the meeting talked about how the funding was in place and work about to start.
“All funding has been reached; the town, county, province and the skate-park association themselves as well as an anonymous donor,” Boucher said, noting work is expected to start later this month.
Getting back to the collaboration involved, Boucher noted the importance of partnerships in getting the project, and eventually skateboarders, off the ground.
“We’ve been looking to do this since we formed our council back in 2016,” she said. “It’s one of the things we really wanted to accomplish and to be able to accomplish it before the end of our term is exciting.
“This would not be possible without the cooperation of the town and county, the province, the community, the skate-park association and St. F.X., as was mentioned tonight in our meeting. We would not be where we are today without those partnerships.”