Sunday, 3 Jul 2022

B.C. government shifting accessible parking requirements to local governments

A big change to B.C.’s building code is raising concerns over the future of accessible parking in the province.

Starting Dec. 10, the province will remove the requirement for accessible parking at residential and commercial buildings from the 2018 building code, and shift the responsibility to municipalities.

The Ministry of Housing says the switch will improve accessibility, particularly at retail stores and condo and apartment buildings, by allowing local governments to set their own standards.

But Stephanie Cadieux, the Liberal MLA for Surrey-South, said municipalities don’t have the expertise to make those kinds of decisions.

“If we start to have to something different in each community it’s going to be very hard for individuals and groups to advocate for proper access when there’s no universal standard, she said.

“It’s a downloading of a responsibility that I think the province should maintain.”

Under the previous building code, at least one accessible parking stall was generally required for every building that provided parking. The stalls were set at specific measurements and required both a level, slip-resistant surface and accessible access to the building itself.

‘We need to keep some kind of standard’

David Willows, the father of a child with disabilities, has worked to improve accessible parking in Victoria, including delivering a 53-page audit of the city’s on-street parking to city hall earlier this month. He said several municipalities across the province don’t yet have accessible parking included in their bylaws, meaning the change will only bring confusion.

“I agree with the province that the building code isn’t the best place [to set] the standard,” Willows said. “In the meantime, until we can get the proper legislation in the province, we need to keep some sort of standard in there.”

Willows said he voiced his concerns to the province, and was told by the office of housing and construction standards that he should lobby the City of Victoria.

“By extension they’re telling me to lobby with 190 communities throughout the province, and as a parent of a child with disabilities and working full-time, I just don’t have time to do that.”

Willows said all governments need to do better at planning projects that have accessibility built into their frameworks, with parking a small piece of the puzzle.

“I think everyone means well, they want to the right thing when it comes to accessibility, but until you’ve actually experienced it you don’t really appreciate the importance of these standards.”

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