City Hall is currently undergoing construction to make the building more accessible.
Mayor Sharilyn Knox says she's quite excited about the effort, noting it's been on the agenda for the previous Council.
"It's so nice to be seeing it done," explains Knox. "Accessibility is important and I do believe that we, as a City, need to be a leader in things. Once we have an accessible space, it's easier for us to encourage businesses and facilities around our community to do the same. I have to say I have a friend who cannot access our building right now, and I'm excited because I have a standing date for coffee once this building is accessible, and he'll be coming here as soon as he can."
City Manager Nathan Peto says they're dealing with a building that's over 100-years-old.
"Accessibility is something that they didn't build into the facility back then," notes Peto. "We have a beautiful historical building, and finding a way that we can accommodate accessibility but still keep the historical integrity of the building is really important to us. You'll see we have started the construction on the side of our building."
He notes the goal was not to have a giant ramp in the front that would take away from the historical integrity of the building.
"We have a very practical solution to come into the side of the building, and then once you're in the building, of course, it doesn't mean anything if your counter space and your staff isn't accessible to people," adds Peto. "So, we also are rebuilding a countertop that can have people come directly from that ramp into the building, and come forward and have an accessible space so they can be served by our friendly staff."
Peto says they have the accessibility to their main floor that will include the construction of an accessible bathroom for the public which is important.
"Then of course, long-term, we are in a building that we are looking at options to provide access to the second floor, which I think is very important," continues Peto. "We have to find a way that is fiscally responsible to do so, and also very practical while working with a building that is over 100-years-old."
He notes they're considering a lift system.
"We just have to find a way to incorporate it in our building," says Peto. "There's definitely some interesting ideas coming forward, and we will be looking at that through our next budgetary process. And because accessibility is a national and provincial priority, as well as locally, we're always looking for grants to potentially partner with to allow that accessibility to the second floor. It will be an expensive endeavour."
Peto says the current project will be completed in spring of next year.
"We're doing a lot of the internal work right now, but obviously, during the winter time, we'll have to wait for the spring before we can actually construct the physical ramp."