Disability friendly district on its way?
A $20,000 investment could make Tokoroa’s streets more disability friendly but it is up to the South Waikato District Council to decide if it’s worth it.
Waikato CCS Disability Action has put in a disability access assessment submission to the 2014 annual plan.
It entails a detailed assessment to identify areas in Tokoroa’s central business district that could be made disability friendly.
CCS access co-ordinator Gerry Pomeroy was pleased to see the council taking it seriously.
Pomeroy said CCS has been pushing the initiative to councils since 2010.
‘‘I think it’s superb that the [South Waikato] council is considering it,’’ she said.
Pomeroy, who is in a wheelchair herself, said people with disabilities are often afraid to go out.
‘‘You hear all the stories and that’s what determines the issues we need to focus on.’’
‘‘What happens is people can’t get out because they think it’s too dangerous,’’ she said.
She confronts the issues herself in some CBDs.
‘‘The biggest one is the cross fell curb. If it’s too steep you have to push your body weight with one arm, you need something flat . . . it gets quite tiring,’’ she said.
However it is not only the disabled who will benefit from the improvements, Pomeroy said.
An easy sloping curb ramp can help mothers with prams and the elderly as well, she said.
‘‘There is an aging demographic and most older people use one aid.’’
If the council was to go ahead with the assessment, transport engineers would assess common routes in the town.
‘‘You take into account where schools, retirement villages, older age facilities and medical centres are,’’ she said.
Recommendations are then prioritised and given to the council.
Mayor Neil Sinclair was in support of a disability friendly district but questioned the proposal.
Sinclair said there were also a lot of unanswered questions including whether the audit would stretch across the district and if it would be value for money.
‘‘Unfortunately it is funded by ratepayers,’’ he said.
Plans for the audit may be on hold but he said the council is making headway on its own plans.
‘‘As we do the Leith Pl development we’ll be making sure it’s disability friendly.’’
He said money is already set aside for footpath development as well.