Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

I am very pleased to be here this morning to welcome you to this special event and officially proclaim today AccessAbility Day here in the City of Ottawa.

I want to recognize my Council colleagues and senior staff who are with us today:

·      Councillor Quadri;

·      Councillor El-Chantiry;

·      Councillor Chernushenko;

·      Councillor Deans; and,

·      Councillor Wilkinson.

Senior Staff include:

·      Kent Kirkpatrick

·      Nancy Schepers

·      Rick O’Connor

·      Donna Gray,

·      Rudy Lindia

I would also like to sincerely thank the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation for their participation in hosting this event.

I would also like to thank our Accessibility Advisory Committee for their ongoing support as this marks the ninth year of this event in recognition of the United Nation’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

In keeping with today’s theme of Building People Places by Designing Accessible Spaces…

Council and I are pleased to announce that two weeks ago we solidified our commitment with our approval of the City’s very first Accessibility Design Standards.

The goal of these new standards is to identify accessibility features and criteria in our built environment in order to remove barriers and improve inclusion for our residents.

The new standards will add to our previous four-year, eight-million dollar commitment to our Accessibility Retrofit Program which is the largest investment for accessibility in the history of the City of Ottawa.

Recently, the Comprehensive Asset Management report identified funding to remove barriers in city buildings, parks and public spaces.

Specifically, Council approved a plan to allocate almost $7 million annually for barrier removal.  this is in addition to the funding that is part of the building renewal and retrofit program.

Although the City is committed to removing barriers in our built environment – I want to be realistic about the magnitude of the challenge.

It is currently estimated that the cost to remove all barriers at City buildings and parks is in the order of 150-million dollars.

Everyone in the design and construction industry knows that the cost of retroactively introducing accessibility standards to projects is more expensive than the cost of introducing the standards in the design and planning stages.

This is why the City’s Accessibility Design Standards have been designed to reflect a reasonable and responsible approach based on existing best practices for considering accessibility early in the planning and design phase.

This will help improve consistency across the city and is the most prudent and cost effective approach to improving accessibility in our built environment.

In the New Year, the City will also begin our consultations on our City’s Official Plan and Transportation Master Plan.

We want everyone in our community to tell us how the City can make their neighbourhoods more vibrant and accessible place to live, work, and play.

By making our city more accessible we will be making neighbourhoods move vibrant and open to everyone.

We want to make Ottawa the most accessible capital city in the world.

Designing and planning a community effectively requires community involvement and we are lucky to have talented people like Betty Dion, Gordon Lorimer, Deputy City Manager Nancy Schepers, and Dr. Mariam Lankoande from CMHC who are joining us today.

These individuals have different expertise, but they all share a commitment to creating universal designs.

Betty Dion has received acclaim for her accessible design work with the Ottawa Airport–which has been rated as one of the best airports in North America—and is currently working as part of our Lansdowne team.

Arlene Grégoire, who is our Chief Building Official and Director of Building Code Services will speak to the importance of the Ontario Building Code in our designs.

Nancy Schepers is the Deputy City Manager of Planning and Infrastructure for the City of Ottawa.

Nancy develops and oversees the implementation of management and growth accommodation strategies for the City’s municipal infrastructure assets, including roads, bridges and transit systems.

Nancy is responsible for the development and implementation of the Ottawa Light Rail Transit Project, and oversees all City of Ottawa Real Estate matters.

Nancy will provide an overview of what is in the City’s new standards and how they will be implemented.

Gordon Lorimer, this is an opportunity to share your considerable expertise and to speak about some of the many projects your firm has undertaken with the City.

For example, you firm’s work on Beaver Barracks Redevelopment, or accessibility issues you considered in the recent work on the Glebe Community Centre Redevelopment.

Last, but certainly not least, you will hear from Dr. Mariam Lankoande, who is a Senior Researcher in the Policy and Research Division of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

She will speak to the planning required in removing barriers and improving inclusion in housing.

Removing barriers and creating inclusive designs is beneficial to our quality of life and economic strength – creating accessible assets and infrastructure to draw new businesses and tourists.

So, today’s event and discussion are important to get our community engaged and working together to create an accessible city.

It is a community issue that requires a community solution.

Because it is going to take a community solution I am especially pleased that we have been able to partner with CMHC to bring you this event today.

Vivian Chih is joining us today from CMHC.

Vivian is a corporate representative for Eastern Ontario and has been instrumental in fostering partners across the region to create accessible and affordable housing.

I would like to invite Vivian to join me and receive the official proclamation.

Could my Council Colleagues please come forward to assist me.

(Mayor Watson reads proclamation.)

Thank you, and I hope today is informative and sparks creativity.