Lewis Centre Accessibility Improvements

July 29, 2013

The makeover of the Courtenay Recreation Lewis Centre continues. For those with mobility issues, one of the most important aspects of the renovation and expansion project is the focus on accessibility. The Lewis Centre now includes a new vertical lift system for wheelchairs and scooters, plus universally accessible washrooms and change rooms, all of which was made possible thanks to a $50,000 contribution from the Government of Canada’s Enabling Accessibility Fund.

"This project, which received funding from the Government of Canada’s Enabling Accessibility Fund, will enhance the community facility and offer a greater level of service for people with disabilities," said John Duncan, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Island North. "The addition of a lift, plus the upgrades to the washrooms and change rooms, not only offer additional services to those with disabilities, it is also an avenue for immediate and long term job creation."

The vertical lift provides access from the old Lewis Centre area to the new expansion. The expansion was constructed higher than the existing facility to meet elevation requirements required by the City’s floodplain bylaw.

The accessible washrooms and change rooms offer lowered mirrors, counters, sinks, toilets and light switches, and a height adjustable change table.

Wanda Crowder, summer inclusion coordinator for the Courtenay Recreational Association, said she is looking forward to using the many new accessibility features of the Lewis Centre.

“We serve almost all of the children in the Comox Valley who have a disability,” she noted. “A lift for easy access to the new wing will help all the children get around the facility quickly and easily, and will be a great asset.”

“We are also very excited about the height adjustable change table in the family change room,” she continued.  “This is a big issue for us as we have several children each session who need extra support getting ready for swimming and other games, and all the bending and lifting can become a health and safety issue for both the children and for staff.”

According to Heather Crites, chair of the Comox Valley Accessibility Committee, the improvements are needed by a significant number of people. “The most recent Statistics Canada Participation and Limitations Survey shows that 18.4 per cent of all adults in British Columbia have a disability,” advised Crites.  “That means that almost one in five adults has activities of daily living limited because of a health related condition or problem. And almost one in eight adults has difficulty with mobility, such as climbing a flight of stairs or walking from room to room.

“Accessibility features are essential to help people with disabilities participate easily and with dignity and independence.”

Renovations to the Lewis Centre continue until October. In addition to the Enabling Accessibility Fund contribution, funding assistance has also been provided by the Federal Gas Tax Fund, and the Provincial Community Recreation Program. 

For more information on the Lewis Centre project, visit www.courtenay.ca.