Three new projects have been included in the Hamilton City Council’s Disability Action Plan for 2016-2017, but some of the bigger issues and needed improvements have been missed.
Without doubt, Public Transport and Accessibility is one of the biggest areas of concern for people with disabilities, not just in Hamilton, but throughout the country.
It is hard for the Hamilton City Council to ensure that all buildings around the city are accessible because apart from official Council-run buildings, like the Library or Swimming Pools for example, because the responsibility of making other buildings fully accessible falls on the property owners, not the Council.
For example, night clubs in the city like Bar 101 or The Bank don’t fall under the same access requirements as the Council Building or the Library. The same rules don’t apply, and although accessible in most cases, far more could be done to improve the existing access for people in wheelchairs to these venues, which in turn would encourage participation, and perhaps even increase awareness for the challenges that disabled people face.
Parking on Victoria Street is a nightmare for people with Mobility Vehicles. and many people say that there is a lot of work to be done in the area of parking in busy places throughout Hamilton, and that responsibility does fall on the HCC.
Access to Sports Grounds like Seddon Park also need to be looked at after many aired their concerns over disabled seating being close to the bar during International Cricket matches.
In their Disability Policy, the Hamilton City Council states under Section 5.4 that Public Transport will meet the needs of disabled people. However, in the Action Plan for 2016-2017, there doesn’t appear to be any action areas of improvement to the Urban Services apart from the Hamilton Gardens route. There was no mention about upgrading the existing accessibility the GO Bus, Orbiter, or Northern Connector services.
Results from an online survey and research conducted in 2016 on the travel habits of Families with disabled members around Hamilton will be shared to regional transport providers in September.
New Projects Included In The Disability Action Plan
- The local Community Development and Leisure Unit will investigate if a companion card programme would work for people with disabilities at Swimming Facilities, in the hopes of increasing participation and inclusion for people of high-needs who require support from a caregiver when swimming. If the trail period proves to be successful, the programme could be extended to other community facilities in Hamilton.
- With the 2016 Local Body Elections beginning in October, the HCC will make all voting hard copy and online materials accessible for people with visual and hearing impairments. Following this, Focus Groups will discuss how to make future election processes more accessible for people with disabilities.