Community ACCESS-ability Program--Southern Region

Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations (to March 31, 2014)

May 31, 2001 8:43 AM

Nova Scotia’s Community ACCESS-ability Program has helped make a
difference at Holy Cross Anglican Church Hall. The hall is now
easier for seniors and people with disabilities to use.

The non-profit community hall in Lockeport is home to church
activities, community events, Scouts, Girl Guides and the IODE.

Church warden Muriel Chetwynd, learned about Community ACCESS-
ability from parishioner Cynthia Townsend, community co-ordinator
for Lockeport. She made her request for a new ramp by filling out
an application from Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations,
the department that runs the program.

"Most of the members of our congregation are seniors," said Ms.
Chetwynd. "First and foremost, we think of our seniors and their
ability to get into the church hall. We certainly aren’t a rich
church by any means. We all thought the program was a terrific
idea, not only for the benefit of older people, but also for
people with arthritis who have trouble climbing stairs and for
people using wheelchairs."

Sponsor organizations, like the church, can receive $2 from the
province for every dollar raised. Donations of labour and
materials can be included in the sponsor’s share, which makes it
easier for municipalities and community organizations to raise
their portion.

Community ACCESS-ability was designed to help non-profit groups
and municipalities eliminate barriers and open public facilities
to a wider range of people. The four-year, cost-sharing grant
program will invest $1.2 million in upgrading public buildings
and facilities. Wheelchair ramps and lifts, accessible washrooms
and automatic doors are just a few examples of the improvements
made to community halls, recreational facilities, municipal
offices and other locations.

"There is a significant need for this kind of program and we’ve
been overwhelmed with the enthusiastic response," said Angus
MacIsaac, Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal
Relations. "We have made important investments in making the
province more inclusive and more open to all Nova Scotians; we
will continue to do so."

Elsie Cholette, provincial co-ordinator of the Nova Scotia League
for Equal Opportunities, agrees that the Community ACCESS-ability
Program is making a difference. Ms. Cholette says, "The
government is creating a better stage for equity for people with
disabilities."

With the help of Service Nova Scotia, the final project included
a ramp, a wider door and a panic bar. In keeping with the
historical nature of the old church, the design blended nicely
with the exterior of the church and, as Ms. Chetwynd commented,
"It seems to belong there."

Community ACCESS-ability has just wrapped up its first year and
it has been a success. The recently announced 2001 funding
brought the total number or supported projects to 87, worth
almost $600,000.

"We’re halfway home but there’s still a lot to be done," said Mr.
MacIsaac. "We’re looking forward to receiving more applications
and to eliminating more barriers."

Applications are available from Access Nova Scotia Centres, on
the Service Nova Scotia Web site at www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr or
through the toll-free number 1-800-670-4357.

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Contact: Kevin Finch
         Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations
         902-424-2733
         E-mail: finchkh@gov.ns.ca

        
kjd         May 31, 2001        8:30 A.M.