Greg Hancock is concerned about accessibility at the Cobourg Health Centre at 316 King Street East. His letter to the Town was referred to the Accessibility Committee and they recommended that Council respond to his concerns. Unfortunately, he will most likely be out of luck. First the Town is not the body to help and second there is no legal requirement to retrofit existing buildings. Greg says that he was hoping that the doctors there would be moving to the planned “Northumberland Medical Arts Building” near the Hospital but believes that project is dead – but it is not. Project spokesman Doug Mann told Cobourg News Blog that “We continue to work on the concept. It is not cancelled.”
Greg’s letter will be presented to Council at their meeting on Monday January 15 (download a copy from Link below). The recommendation by the Accessibility Advisory Committee will also be presented. They say that they “encourage Council to respond to Mr. Hancock’s concerns”.
Greg originally expressed concern in October 2009 with concerns for his aging mother but now says:
Some things have changed in the past 8 years.
- My mother reached 103 years old, but has now died. However the access problems remain the same.
- The Cobourg Health Centre was slated to move to a new building near the NHH, but this appears to have been cancelled.
- It has become more apparent that the Accessibility Act does apply to private businesses.
I am therefore resubmitting my submission of 2009, with the request that the council should reconsider the matter.
Greg summarizes his concerns with:
Access to the Cobourg Health Centre is made difflcult for handicapped or elderly patients by steep steps, lengthy ramps, lack of elevator access at ground level, and by a $3 access charge.
Download his complete letter from Links below.
A Google search found some relevant facts (see links below). Accessibility standards are governed by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and the Ontario Building Code.
- The AODA requires organizations to incorporate accessibility when building new public spaces, or making planned significant alterations to existing public spaces.
- Organizations are not required to retrofit public spaces to meet the requirements. This means that an organization is not required to alter its public spaces if it has no plans to do so.
- The Building Code is a “go forward” standard. That is, new requirements apply only to new construction and extensive renovations and it does not mandate the retrofit of existing buildings.
Greg includes the fact that the Cobourg Health Centre requires a $3 fee to Park or even access the back door but that is not governed by AODA or the Building code nor to my knowledge is it regulated by the Town.
Town staff have recommended that Council direct Staff to send a letter to Mr. Hancock outlining the options available.
It seems to me that the options are:
- To wait for the Doctors to move to a different location such as the Northumberland Medical Arts Building when it eventually gets built;
- Hope that the owner (or new owner, it’s up for sale) will make the improvements.
- Access problems at Cobourg Health Centre, Accessibility tor Ontarians with Disabilities Act – Letter from Greg Hancock dated December 4, 2017
- Accessibility in Ontario’s Building Code
- Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation: A Training Booklet for Small Private and Not-for-Profit Organizations – From Access Forward.
Note on Northumberland Medical Arts Building
In 2015, a consortium of Doctors and others announced that they were planning to build a large building adjacent to the Hospital. With financing an issue, they asked Cobourg Council to invest $303,652 by waiving development and other fees. After initially approving the idea, public questions eventually caused Council to NOT approve the “donation”. Since then, the project has not moved forward but Doug Mann assured me that work continues on the project and it has not been cancelled.
Links re Northumberland Medical Arts Building
- New Medical Building on Hospital Land – 22 June 2015
- Medical Arts Building Issued RFP – 18 Nov 2015
- Council Approves Donation to Medical Arts Building Group – 30 Nov 2015
- A Decision on the NMAI Fee Waiver – 12 Feb 2016
Update – January 15
At the regular Council meeting on January 15, there was no discussion by Council on this subject. It was referred to staff to handle.