Town of Yarmouth Approves Accessibility Action Plan
Developed through the hard work of a dedicated citizen advisory committee, the first-ever action plan to remove barriers in the Town of Yarmouth is being put into action
Monday, March 28th, 2022 - Yarmouth, N.S. – After a full year of hard work, the Town of Yarmouth’s Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) is releasing the town’s first-ever Accessibility Action Plan. A recent presentation of the plan to Town Council was well-received, and council gave final approval to adopt it at a special council meeting last Thursday.
The AAC was formed last January in response to Nova Scotia’s 2017 Accessibility Act. The act required public sector bodies to develop accessibility action plans by the spring of 2022. The AAC delivered on that requirement with a detailed plan that will see the town do its part towards becoming an accessible province by 2030. Working closely with Town of Yarmouth staff, the AAC built the plan to identify accessibility barriers the public face in five key areas:
- When using municipal buildings or public spaces (the “built environment”). This means making public buildings, streets, sidewalks, and shared spaces accessible to all.
- When accessing goods and services. This ensures that people with disabilities have equitable access to goods and services they need.
- When receiving communication and information so that all people can receive, understand, and share the information they need.
- When using public transportation - making it easier for everyone to get where they need to go.
- When applying for employment. This is to ensure workplaces are accessible, and supporting people with disabilities in finding meaningful employment.
The 25-page action plan outlines achievements made to date in each of these five areas, and also points to the barriers found within each area. Each section of the plan also lays out actions that will be taken to remove the barriers over time, and establishes clear policies and timelines to follow moving forward.
In order to identify barriers, the committee adopted a two-part process: formal audits and public consultation. The audits helped discover barriers in the built environment. The process involved a full examination of Town-owned buildings, parks, and trails to uncover accessibility issues. The first audits completed uncovered barriers and helped determine what actions needed to be taken to remove them.
The community consultation process took place throughout the year, as the committee members enjoyed discussions and presentations from many community members facing accessibility issues. The committee also conducted a survey and held a virtual conference on the topic of accessibility within the town. Both allowed community members to tell their stories about the barriers they’ve faced. The committee received tremendous input and first-hand experiences, all valuable in helping form the final action plan.
AAC Chair Stephen Nicholl spoke proudly of the efforts made by the AAC to build the plan.
“I’m personally very proud of this action plan as it represents an important milestone toward creating a barrier-free community in Yarmouth,” said Nicholl. “We have an amazing group of individuals who came together to form this committee, and work very hard to deliver a thorough plan to help the town become more accessible in coming years. There is still lots of work to be done, but this plan represents a new starting point, and something to build upon.”
“On behalf of council, I’d like to thank the committee volunteers and staff who worked to bring this great plan together so quickly,” said Mood. “We are also grateful to those who participated in the community consultations. An effective action plan must have input from people with first-hand experiences around accessibility. This plan is an important step forward for the town in recognizing where we come up short serving people with disabilities, and how we can begin to fix those shortcomings.”
The action plan is now available to the public. To view the PDF action plan document CLICK HERE. To view the PDF community consultation report, CLICK HERE. You can find them in the "Documents" section in the top right-hand corner of this page. If you require a paper copy of the plan and/or supporting documents, copies are available at town hall, 400 Main Street.
About the AAC
Appointed Elected Official Members
Councillor Derek Lesser
Councillor Gil Dares
Appointed Members At Large
Steve Nicholl (Chair)
Jane Walker (Vice Chair)
Sherrie Graham (Secretary)
Ex Officio Members
Mayor Pam Mood
CAO Jeff Gushue
Accessibility Co-Ordinator Natalie Smith