How You Can Help Create Accessible Housing in Ontario




"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." — Margaret Mead

Do you live in Ontario? Then we need your help!

A few months ago, I became involved in the Older Women's Network's "Living in Place" campaign. It’s calling for the Ontario Building Code to be changed to require that ALL new residential buildings be 100% universal design or easily adaptable, so that anyone of any age or ability can live there.  Toronto City Council has endorsed this campaign.

How does this affect you? As I wrote in my post about the day Living in Place went to Queens Park, disability increases as we age. In fact, as former Lt. Gov. David Onley once said, disability is the only minority group that anyone can join at any time.

But accessibility isn’t just important because of how your body might change, either temporarily or permanently. It also affects your social life. You may have a family member who has mobility issues or you may make friends with someone who has a disability. More than that, you might have someone in your life who is a parent or caregiver to a child and who can benefit from accessibility features, such as automatic door openers or ramps. And so on… Even if you plan to never move out of your house, people you care about might need easily adaptable residences to stay independent.

OWN is asking everyone to write to their MPP (all parties), as well as the Premier and the Ministers of Health, Finance, Accessibility, Seniors Affairs, and Housing. You can find your MPP here. A real letter in an envelope with a stamp will have more impact than an email. Send your letter to

MPP Name
Queen’s Park
111 Wellesley St.W.
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A2

You can use the OWN sample letter included below or an adaptation of it. Your letter will be more effective if you had details about your own circumstances and concerns. My original post on this campaign has facts and figures that might be useful as you write your letter.

However, the important thing is to contact your MPP, even if it’s just with one or two sentences or a copy of the letter.

The more people who do this, the more attention will be brought to this important issue. Please share this letter in your networks and encourage the people you know to participate. A few moments of your time could make all the difference.

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear

Re: Urgent need for accessible apartments and condominiums

Everyone needs a home which they will not have to leave due to accident or illness.   Thousands are forced out of their homes, at the most vulnerable time in their lives, because the home is not barrier-free.  The result is overflowing beds at hospitals and long term care facilities, and long waiting lists.

One out of every six Canadians lives with some form of disability.

Just imagine the difference if the Ontario Building Code required that all units in new apartment and condo buildings be universal design.

Universal design accommodates anyone of any age or ability, going beyond mere accessibility. 

Many people think that universal design costs a great deal more than conventional design.  However, the cost is less than 1% more when planned from the initial design stage.  It is renovation that is costly.

I urge you to ensure the Ontario Building Code Section 3.8.1.1 is revised immediately by making universal design mandatory in all rental and ownership apartments.

Honour the legal requirements under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code recognizing all persons with disabilities as people first,

Thank-you for your support of this urgently needed change.

Sincerely,

 

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