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The Path to an Inclusive and Accessible Community

Submitted by Heather Keam on May 10, 2018 - 3:38am

Being part of a community means that everyone no matter what ability, can enjoy all that it has to offer.  If communities are not planned or built with an accessible lens, people with disabilities cannot be fully involved and thus the community suffers.

I recently read a blog by Jim Diers about building inclusive communities, in which he states, “Communities are at their best when they are inclusive, a quality that seems to be in short supply these days. There is so much stereotyping and polarization with people divided by politics, religion and culture.”  Jim talks about the potential of place-based communities that include people with differences - whether those are defined by interest, age, politics, religion, income, race, culture, sexual orientation, abilities, employment, or housing status.

Cities are taking the lead across Canada and developing Accessibility and Inclusion policies, and one great example of this is in Kamloops, B.C.  The City of Kamloops recognized that, while there has been a lot of great work done to address accessibility and inclusion, there needed to be a formalized policy to support future planning for improvements and resources enabling access and inclusion.

To facilitate the development of their strategy, The City took part in Tamarack Institute’s Local Deepening Community Initiative, holding deep, intentional conversations with City staff and the community, in order to guide the development of an accessibility and inclusion policy for the city. From these conversations, they identified community priorities and used them to determine collective community action to promote and transform Kamloops into an ever more inclusive and accessible community.

Four themes and their associated goals for accessibility and inclusivity in Kamloops, B.C.:

  1. Accessible services and programs: City services and programs are accessible for a full range of abilities
  2. Accessible built environment: Continue to increase and improve accessibility in our community 
  3. Accessible transportation: Continue to maintain and improve accessible transportation options
  4. Accessible employment: Continue to support labour participation for people with disabilities

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