History

Marg and Marilyn information table 2010
Accessibility Committee on Access Awareness Day 2013

Comox Valley Accessibility Committee – History – 1998-2020

  • The Committee started in 1998 when Comox Councillor Norm Reynolds approached the Coordinator of Special Needs Recreation, Heather Crites.
  • Special Needs Recreation was a program with the Courtenay Recreational Association created to support people with disabilities, funded primarily through the CVRD with a Valley wide mandate.
  • The goals were:
    • Educate and Raise Awareness about accessibility issues;
    • Be a resource for accessibility information; and
    • Advocate for improved accessibility, primarily at the local level.
  • The societal context was increasing awareness about the accessibility needs for people with disabilities. In 1990, the US had passed the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which mandated sweeping improvements in disability access.
  • The CV Accessibility Committee was never formally constituted with terms of reference but had a dedicated group of community members, including Marg Misener, who remained Secretary for twenty years.
  • Activities included:
    • developing a wide base of disability information regarding the built environment and accessibility grants;
    • working with local government, businesses and organizations to help make the Comox Valley a barrier-free community;
    • making presentations, information displays and promotional material; and
    • consulting with numerous organizations.
  • This was important work because, for example, the Building Code did not then require visual as well as auditory fire alarms or that all exits be accessible, and did not consider medical scooters to be assistive devices for indoor locations. The current BC Building Code still does not consider medical scooters in the design of indoor spaces and does not require all multi story public buildings to be accessible. 
  • In 2017/18 Courtenay Recreational Association programming was transitioned to the City of Courtenay and retirement of volunteers and staff, most significantly Heather Crites and Marg Misener, has left a gap in both energy and expertise. This resulted no formal arrangement between the Accessibility Committee and local governments, except for Cumberland where a separate smaller committee process is in place.
  • 2018 – 2020 the Accessibility Committee acted as an ad hoc committee without funding or staff support
  • In 2020 the Accessibility Committee and the Comox Valley Social Planning Society formed a collaborative relationship to further their mutual work and received joint funding from CVRD to provide administrative support for both groups