Accessibility

Updated on September 22, 2023

Welcome to the SLRD’s webpage on accessibility.

Please note: The SLRD is in the early stages of its important accessibility work. The new Accessibility Committee has recently been convened, consisting of SLRD staff members only at this time. Planning is underway to expand membership to individuals outside of the SLRD once some preliminary and foundational work has been completed. In the coming months, there will be information available on this webpage about how to apply to be considered as a member of the Accessibility Committee.

Public Feedback on Accessibility Matters

If you have any comments about the SLRD’s Preliminary / Draft Accessibility Plan or barriers to individuals in or interacting with the organization, the SLRD wants to hear from you.  Please provide your comments to Veronica Reid, Project and Program Coordinator in any of the following ways:

  • By email: vreid@slrd.bc.ca
  • By mail: PO Box 219, 1350 Aster Street, Pemberton, BC V0N 2L0
  • By phone: 604-894-6371 x 238 (toll-free: 1-800-298-7753)
  • By fax: 604-894-6526

Background

The Province’s Accessible British Columbia Act (the “Act”) was enacted on June 17, 2021, followed by its Accessible British Columbia Regulation on September 1, 2022. The purpose of the Act is to establish a framework for specified organizations to work with people with disabilities and the broader community to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility. The Act’s definition of a barrier is “anything that hinders the full and equal participation in society of a person with an impairment.” The Act states that “barriers can be “caused by environments, attitudes, practices, policies, information, communications or technologies and affected by intersecting forms of discrimination.”

As a piece of enabling legislation, the Act paves the way for future standards to be made by the Provincial Cabinet (via regulation) that may address the identification, removal and prevention of barriers in all areas, including in: employment; delivery of services; the built environment; information and communications; transportation; health; education; and procurement.

Relevant excerpts of the Act are set out below:

Accessibility committee

9(1) An organization must establish a committee to

  • (a) assist the organization in identifying barriers to individuals in or interacting with the organization, and
  • (b) advise the organization on how to remove and prevent barriers to individuals in or interacting with the organization.

  (2) An accessibility committee must, to the extent possible, have members who are selected in accordance          with the following goals:

  • (a) at least half of the members are
    • (i) persons with disabilities, or
    • (ii) individuals who support, or are from organizations that support, persons with disabilities;
  • (b) the members described in paragraph (a) reflect the diversity of persons with disabilities in British Columbia;
  • (c) at least one of the members is an Indigenous person;
  • (d) the committee reflects the diversity of persons in British Columbia.

Accessibility plan

11(1) An organization must develop a plan to identify, remove and prevent barriers to individuals in or interacting with the organization.

   (2) An organization must review and update its accessibility plan at least once every 3 years.

   (3) In developing and updating its accessibility plan, an organization must consider the following principles:

  • (a) inclusion;
  • (b) adaptability;
  • (c) diversity;
  • (d) collaboration;
  • (e) self-determination;
  • (f) universal design.

(4)  In developing its accessibility plan, an organization must consult with its accessibility committee.  

(5)  In updating its accessibility plan, an organization must

  • (a) consider any comments received under section 12 [public feedback], and
  • (b) consult with its accessibility committee.

Public feedback

12 An organization must establish a process for receiving comments from the public on

  • (a) the organization's accessibility plan, and
  • (b) barriers to individuals in or interacting with the organization.

The Accessibility Plan is intended to be an evolving document, reflecting the priorities of the specific local government as informed by its Accessibility Committee and taking into consideration any public feedback on accessibility.

The Act has considerable flexibility, and there is no requirement that the work of the Accessibility Committee and the Accessibility Plan have either an internal focus or external focus. For example, a local government could choose to focus:

  • internally on employment policies and practices such as attracting, hiring and retaining persons with disabilities in the workplace;
  • externally on addressing accessibility barriers experienced by community members or visitors in service delivery.

There is the flexibility to scope accessibility work to include one area or both areas. Areas for consideration could include infrastructure, policies, services, programs, website, and built environments (such as office space, parks, playgrounds, trails, landfills and recycling facilities).

Involvement of the Accessibility Committee

The Board has directed that the Accessibility Committee will report to the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). The CAO has the authority to incorporate into the Corporate Work Plan any accessibility initiatives arising out of the work of the Accessibility Committee that:

  • do not have financial impacts; or
  • have financial impacts that can be incorporated into the current financial plan.  

If the CAO wishes to advance accessibility initiatives arising out of the work of the Accessibility Committee that require dedicated funding, a staff report seeking allocation of dedicated funding will be brought to the Board as part the SLRD’s normal budgeting processes.

The CAO is responsible for the Terms of Reference that govern the Accessibility Committee.  Highlights of the Terms of Reference:

  • Approach – In recognition of there being no dedicated accessibility funding in the current financial plan, the development of an Accessibility Plan is to start off simple and focused with the ability to grow over time adding breadth, depth and complexity.
  • Purpose of Committee - The Committee makes recommendations to the CAO about:
    • developing an Accessibility Plan;
    • identifying and assessing accessibility barriers to people in the organization or to people interacting with the organization;
    • removing and preventing accessibility barriers to people in the organization or to people interacting with the organization;
    • implementing the Accessibility Plan (once developed and as approved by the Board); and
    • providing feedback about the SLRD’s tool to receive public feedback on accessibility to help identify barriers and build awareness in the community of accessibility.
  • Role of CAO – The CAO determines if and how to address the recommendations of the Committee through various pathways as laid out in the draft Terms of Reference.
  • Sponsor - The sponsor of the Committee is the Director of Strategic Services or their designate, with duties that include:
    • Recruiting or inviting individuals with the required membership requirements to be Committee members and making appointments (and re-appointments) to the Committee.
    • Attending meetings and taking meetings.
    • Overseeing the Terms of Reference under the direction of the CAO.
    • On a schedule determined by the CAO, updating the Board on the work of the Committee.
    • When directed by the CAO, bringing staff reports to the Board for any accessibility initiatives that require dedicated funding.
  • Membership - The Committee consists of a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 12 members. As required by provincial legislation, the SLRD strives for Committee membership to consist of persons with disabilities, individuals that support or represent organizations that support persons with disabilities, and at least one Indigenous person. Initially staff members are voting members but once there is a minimum of 4 members that are persons with disabilities, individuals that support or represent organizations that support persons with disabilities and at least one Indigenous person, staff members not meeting those requirements will become non-voting members. As soon as the Committee’s composition aligns with the legislative requirements, staff not meeting those requirements will step away as voting members and become non-voting members.
  • Meetings - The Committee meets a minimum of two times and a maximum of six times per year. Initially, meetings are chaired by the Sponsor but once there is a minimum of 4 members that are persons with disabilities, individuals that support or represent organizations that support persons with disabilities and at least one Indigenous person, staff members not meeting those requirements become non-voting members and the Chair is elected by the voting members. Meetings are not open to the public.
  • Annual Review - The Sponsor reviews these Terms of Reference on an annual basis, taking into consideration any feedback received from the Accessibility Committee, with the CAO being responsible for approving any revisions.

Next Steps

1. Planning for the recruitment of members that meet the legislative requirements for Accessibility Committee membership, specifically:

  • (a) persons with disabilities;
  • (b) persons who support, or are from organizations that support, persons with disabilities; and
  • (c) at least one Indigenous person

2. Exploring options related to the possibility of providing financial remuneration to the Accessibility Committee members. At this time, there is no funding in the current Financial Plan to provide financial remuneration to Accessibility Committee members (if they are not staff members).

3. Providing an enhanced tool for receiving public feedback on accessibility matters, such as the SLRD’s community engagement tool.

4. Exploring the Local Community Accessibility Grant Program and developing ideas for the Accessibility Committee’s consideration.

5. Developing and undertaking surveys to collect feedback on identifying, removing and preventing barriers to accessibility in internal SLRD operations and in external SLRD operations.

6. Pulling together an inventory of SLRD initiatives already underway that include accessibility considerations.