Dis­abil­ity friendly dis­trict on its way?

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By CAITLIN WAL­LACE

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.

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