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Councillors want developers to commit to accessibility

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

The city is asking developers to put more focus on accessibility moving forward.

Oshawa’s development services committee recently supported a motion requiring all residential projects to be designed with 15 per cent accessible units with features such as no stairs, and entrance and washroom doors sufficient for mobility devices. The motion was spurred by a recommendation from the city’s accessibility advisory committee.

Ward 1 city councillor Rosemary McConkey says it is frustrating to see how many development projects come to the city with no consideration of accessibility.

“It’s about time we take that step… and do something very proactive and positive so we can address the issues of accessibility in Oshawa,” McConkey said.

Ward 2 city councillor Jane Hurst said it’s crucial the requirement is clear before construction begins.

“This would be very a proactive model moving forward. It’s not just for the residents but also for their guests and family members, who are unable to visit… due to these limitations,” Hurst said.

According to McConkey, the province’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires apartment buildings to include 15 per cent accessible units.

But commissioner of development services Warren Munro noted this requirement does not extend to what he called “ground-based buildings” such as townhouses/stacked townhouses.

This led Ward 4 city councillor Derek Giberson to worry the city would have no real authority to enforce its wishes.

He suggested they needed to offer something to developers to increase accessibility so they “don’t pass on it.”

Committee chair and Ward 2 city and regional councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri said it was a “very good motion” but agreed there needed to be a “buy-in” from the development industry. The matter was referred back to staff to discuss with industry representatives and members of the advisory committee.