Accessibility Renovations in Canada’s Parliamentary Precincts

Article 6 / 11 , Vol. 44 No. 2 (Summer)


44n2e_21_accessibility

Accessibility Renovations in Canada’s Parliamentary Precincts

Canada’s parliamentary precinct buildings were constructed during periods when thoughts about accessibility accommodations ranged from virtually non-existent to something considered when commissioning new builds. As a result, jurisdictions with older properties have undergone a series of renovations in recent decades to make these precincts more accessible for parliamentarians, staff and the public. The following lists and summaries detailing these renovations were created using information provided by the Office of the Clerk, parliamentary librarians, and/or departments of property management.

British Columbia

The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia has undertaken the following measures to make the parliamentary space more accessible to Members, staff and visitors with mobility restrictions:

Chamber and Committee Room Renovations and Improvements

  • Improved the technology in the Legislative Chamber and facilitated the participation of Members with limited mobility.
  • The Speaker’s chair now incorporates a console system which features a House messaging system that Members with mobility restrictions can use to alert the Speaker of their interest in participating in debate.
  • Reconfigured the Legislative Chamber – as required – to allow room for a Member with mobility restriction to easily access their desk.
  • Members with mobility restrictions vote by raising their hands as opposed to standing during a formal division.
  • Installed special extended microphones and standup desks in committee rooms for Members with mobility restrictions participating in Committee proceedings.

External Renovations and Improvements

  • In March 2013, a new accessible entrance was unveiled at the front of the Parliament Buildings. It is named after Douglas Lyle Mowat who served as a Member of our Legislative Assembly from 1983 to 1991. Mr. Mowat was the first wheelchair user elected to a legislature in Canada.
  • Other improvements include:
  • upgrades to create barrier free entrances;
  • new accessible parking spaces;
  • changes to curbs, paths and rolling surfaces around the Parliament Buildings to enhance accessibility; and,
  • a concrete ramp and metal railings to facilitate improved accessibility to the Parliamentary Dining Room.

Internal Renovations and Improvements

  • installed an internal ramp to provide accessibility to our Legislative Library
  • renovated washroom entrances and fixtures to enhance accessibility
  • installed automatic door openers
  • modernized the building’s elevators to enhance access to the overall building. The elevators were over 30 years old and, except for the elevator shafts, were completely replaced
  • updated the fire alarm system with new fire bells and strobe lights for the hearing impaired
  • installed “Evacu-Trac Evacuation Chairs” to assist mobility restricted Members should the elevators become inoperable during an on-site emergency requiring evacuation
  • added closed captioning for the hearing-impaired as part of our television broadcast of all proceedings
  • provided for personal care attendant services and Committee travel supports for Members as required.

Alberta

1912: Elevators were put into the Legislature Building when it was originally constructed.

1965: New elevators were installed early in the year to replace the existing elevators.

1973: In response to a question in the Assembly on the availability of Legislature accessibility features the Minister of Public Works referenced plans to change access to the galleries to make them more accessible. Ramps are mentioned as being in place to enter the Building.

1981: Complete wheelchair accessibility to the Legislature Building was put in place during the International Year of the Disabled Person.

1986: Renovation provisions made for eight wheelchairs in the galleries; washrooms and telephone booths made accessible within the Building; handrails added in galleries to assist those who have difficulty with stairs.

1987: A temporary plywood ramp over front steps installed for visit of Rick Hanson.

1989: The first Member using a wheelchair is elected. Percy Wickman was a paraplegic who received the Order of Canada for his political career and efforts on behalf of people with disabilities. An interview with Percy Wickman about his experiences can be found in Canadian Parliamentary Review 13(1) 1990.

1990: Alberta is the first province to have American Sign Language interpreters sign on broadcasts. Technical issues and budget reductions resulted in a move to closed captioning in 1995.

2004: Bill 201 Safety Codes (Barrier-free Design and Access) Amendment Act, 2004 passed.

2007: As part of a review of occupational health and safety measures, offices and furnishings (including in constituency offices) were assessed and upgraded as required. Elevator cabs in the Legislature Building renovated to barrier-free standards regarding the control panels. Washrooms renovated to ensure access for people with disabilities.

2007: Assistive listening devices are made available upon request to members of the public entering the galleries. The original listening devices were the size of a small box and amplified the audio. In 2015, the assisted listening devices were updated to iPads that also provide closed captioning.

2008: The election of Kent Hehr, who is a quadriplegic using a motorized wheelchair. Upon Mr. Hehr’s election, a review was undertaken by the Legislative Assembly and a representative of HFKS Architects. This initial site review identified potential barrier-free modifications for consideration. It was noted that the need for both accessibility and security presented conflicts in several locations. Egress from the allotted parking spaces into the Legislature Building, which included ramps, was deemed satisfactory. While door widths met Building Codes, the push buttons for the automatic door opener were upgraded. Within the Chamber, the Bar was moved to allow the Member to proceed unimpeded to his desk.

2012: Dedicated washrooms for people with disabilities established within the Legislature Building.

2013: Member Heather Forsyth brings her service dog Quill into the Chamber – a first in Canada. Quill assisted Forsyth, who has hearing loss. On Quill’s first day at work at the Alberta Legislature, he sat under Forsyth’s desk and was quite at ease. However, she said Quill was startled when politicians started thumping their hands on their desks during debate.

2013/2014: And accessibility investigation for the Legislature Building was completed by Percy Wickman’s son’s business, Ron Wickman Architect. At the time, funding was not in place to make any modifications.

Saskatchewan

The United Nations declared 1981 the International Year of Disabled Persons. The same year the Assembly put handrails on the legislative steps. It was a first small step toward much more extensive renovations in subsequent years.

In 1997, an emergency rehabilitation of the Legislative Building began. The project addressed major structural deficiencies to stabilize the building’s foundation. In that same year there were upgrades to the building’s safety components and accessibility standards, but stabilizing the foundation from underneath took precedent and delayed the accessibility piece of the building upgrades.

In April 1997, MLA Ned Shillington was confined to a wheelchair as a paraplegic; a special ramp had been provided for him in the Chamber, but it was not a permanent feature.

An accessible entryway was added to the front of the building in 2001. Named for the Prince of Wales and opened by him, it was developed during a substantial construction project on the Legislative Building. The impetus for the renovation was spurred by a visit five years earlier by paraplegic athlete and national hero Rick Hansen. He could not enter the building except via the service entrance at the back of the building. Officials vowed to make the necessary changes to prevent this scenario from happening again

In 2015 four Saskatchewan Party MLAs and one member of the opposition took part in a challenge posed by First Steps Wellness Centre: spend the day in a wheelchair. All five MLAs reported that the challenge gave them a new perspective for the types of barriers still present for persons with disabilities.

While the issues of accessibility are an ongoing discussion, Rule 1(2) of the Rules and Procedures of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan state that “The Speaker may alter the application of any Rule or practice of the Assembly in order to accommodate the full participation in the proceedings of the Assembly of any Member: (a) with a disability…”

Manitoba

Over the years, the Manitoba Government and the Manitoba Legislative Assembly undertook a number of key initiatives to enhance accessibility in the Manitoba

Legislative Building for persons working in or visiting the building. The Government led a number of the initiatives, as it has jurisdiction over the majority of the Legislative Building, while the Government and the Legislative Assembly worked in cooperation for plans related to Assembly spaces.

These measures for enhancing accessibility include the following:

  • In 1993, a designated section in the Legislative Assembly Public Gallery underwent renovations to provide space for persons using wheelchairs and other mobility devices to watch the Assembly in session. In addition, a wheelchair lift was added outside one of the Gallery doors to provide access to the Public Galleries;
  • Closed captioning was added to the broadcasting of Routine Proceedings in 2001;
  • In 2006 and 2013, the platform lifts in the Public Gallery were upgraded to provide newer models of platform lifts capable of handling the heavier weight of contemporary wheelchairs;
  • In 2007, the Manitoba Legislative Building became the first legislative building in Canada to provide full access at the front doors with the completion of a universal access ramp at the front entrance of the building. The ramp design incorporates visually with the heritage design of the building. The structure is wide enough to allow two wheelchairs to pass each other safely and includes a circular landing that allows users the opportunity to stop and view the outside of the building and the nearby grounds. In addition, the installation of custom doors at the main entrance provides better accommodation for wheelchairs, strollers and groups of visitors. Accessibility parking stalls are located at the base of the ramp;
  • Standing Committees have provided American sign language interpretation and live closed captioning of proceedings upon request since 2011, and in 2013, the Legislative Assembly Management Commission approved an annual budget for the Committees Branch to provide these accessibility services during the committee stage of public presentations to legislation;
  • In cooperation with Government, improvements were made to the Assembly’s Public Gallery in 2015 to enhance audio, provide better floor lighting to reduce trip hazards, widen and improve stair treads, and improve visibility of stairs;
  • Also in 2015, accessibility doors were added to public bathrooms in the Legislative Building;
  • From 2015 – 2017, an Advisory Committee was struck to look into the issue of enhancing accessibility in the Chamber. The Committee consisted of representatives from the Speaker’s Office, the Office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Hansard, Visitor Tours, Accommodation Services, Historic and Cultural Resources, representatives from the disabled community and advisory groups, the City of Winnipeg Accessibility Coordinator, the Disabilities Issues Office, project architects and contractors. From the discussions and investigations undertaken by this Advisory Committee a number of recommendations were acted on to enhance accessibility;
  • In 2016, the Legislative Assembly agreed that any MLA requiring personal assistance such as a personal assistant, a service dog, sign language interpretation, real time closed captioning device, voice simulation or any other such reasonable personal assistance can have such assistance present in the Assembly without requiring the leave of the Legislative Assembly;
  • In 2016, based on recommendations from the Advisory Committee, the third row of MLA seating in the Legislative Assembly Chamber was renovated to make the desks and seats accessible for those using mobility devices;
  • Also in 2016, Government Caucus office doors were renovated into accessibility doors. An MLA office was renovated as an accessibility office complete with an accessible door and an ensuite bathroom with accessibility features and a proper wheelchair turning radius;
  • In 2016, a touch screen monitor was configured to provide an MLA with movement challenges, the ability to have an aide signal for the attention of the Speaker, the Table Officers, the Pages, and the intention to speak in debate, by touching the screen on behalf of the Member;
  • Also in 2016, the Speaker and Clerk investigated and observed the operations of platform lifts located in other cities to determine whether a platform lift would be a suitable option for providing access to the floor of the Legislative Chamber for persons using mobility devices. Concerns were reported back to the Advisory Committee after seeing those lifts in operation. The idea of using a platform lift was discarded due to the noise level, the potential for mechanical breakdown, and for the lack of discretion for persons using the lift. The Advisory Committee returned to the idea of installing a wheelchair ramp. Previously, this idea had been rejected because the dimensions of the Chamber made the slope of a ramp too steep, however with the creative thinking of raising the floor of the Assembly Chamber, it was determined that a wheelchair ramp could indeed be installed that would conform to code requirements;
  • In 2017, the Commissioner for MLA Indemnities, Allowances and Pension Benefits added, at the request of the Assembly, $5,000 to the Constituency Allowances of all MLAs, specifically to provide renovations to constituency offices to enhance accessibility;
  • In 2017, based on recommendations from the Advisory Committee, the Legislative Assembly Chamber underwent significant renovations to enhance accessibility. In order to provide the proper slope for the installation of a wheelchair ramp, the Chamber floor was raised by four and a half feet. With the installations of the ramp, access to the Chamber floor is now possible for anyone using a mobility device;
  • In addition, the first row of desks on both sides of the Assembly Chamber were moved in order to provide a proper wheelchair turning radius, meaning that MLAs using mobility devices could sit on the front benches on either side of the Assembly Chamber. The Speaker’s dais and the Clerks’ table are now also accessible. This renovation was completed on time and under budget and was so well done that it won a Heritage Winnipeg award; it was also a finalist for Project of the Year award and won acclaim from notable activist Rick Hansen;
  • In 2020, broadcasting of Assembly proceedings expanded from Routine Proceedings to the entire of the sitting day, which means that closed captioning now includes the full sitting day. With the move to virtual participation by MLAs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, instead of appearing in person, Standing Committee presenters now participate virtually from their homes or offices.

Ontario

1995 – North Wing Entrance Exterior Ramp Design & Installation – Accessibility ramps integrated into the existing stair design and heritage façade of the North Wing to provide accessible entrance.

1997 – 2008 – West Wing First Floor to Fourth Floor Washroom Renovations – Renovations to all existing West Wing washroom facilities to meet current building code and accessibility standards.

2000 – New Accessible Building Entrance – Introduction of a new public building entrance and accessible ramp located on the south façade of the Legislative Building.

2003 – 2004 – Centre Block Basement Washroom Renovation – Renovations completed to basement washroom facilities to meet current building code and accessibility standards.

2004 – Chamber Ramp Installations – Accessibility ramps integrated into the existing environment in the Chamber and Chamber lobbies to provide barrier‐free path of travel.

2007 – 2008 – East Wing Fourth Floor Accessibility Ramp – Accessibility ramp integrated with existing stair to provide barrier‐free path of travel to office spaces.

2007 – Centre Block Elevator Renovation – Renovation to basement and intermediate level of Centre Block for the addition of an accessible elevator.

2008 – 2009 – New Elevator and Associated Accessibility Upgrades – Lieutenant Governor’s Suite – New elevator installed to provide access to all three levels of the suite with associated accessibility upgrades, including a new washroom.

2008 – 2010 – North Wing Washroom Renovations First Floor to Fourth Floor – Renovations completed in all North Wing washrooms to meet current building code and accessibility standards.

2009 – 2011 New Security Desks – Security desks at public entrances all replaced with barrier‐free desks.

2009 – Building Wayfinding Signage Review and Upgrade – Comprehensive review completed of all existing building (interior and exterior) signage followed by the implementation of updated signage to meet current accessibility standards (pictograms, braille, etc…).

2009 – 2014 – Elevator Voice Notification System – Audible signals installed in all elevators to provide audible voice messaging to indicate direction of travel and floor levels.

2010 – Pages Quarters Accessible Washrooms and Showers – Redesign of existing washroom facilities to meet current building code and accessibility standards.

2010 – Library Circulation Desk Accessibility Renovation – Library circulation desk redesigned and replaced with a barrier‐free desk.

2012 – East Wing Basement Men’s Washroom & New Family/All Gender Washroom – Renovation completed in the basement men’s washroom to meet current building code and accessibility standards. Redesign included the introduction of a separate new family/all gender accessible washroom.

2014 – North Wing Basement Renovations – North Wing basement renovated with the addition of accessible washrooms and showers.

2015 – Barrier-Free Door Operators throughout North Wing from Basement through to Fourth Floor

2019 – Barrier-Free Door Operators installed at various location throughout buildings.

2021 – Visitors Centre Screening Facility – 2,000 sq. ft. addition built on to Legislature for the purposes of security screening. Selected location built upon the previously introduced accessible entrance and ramp (2000)

House of Commons

A major rehabilitation project is now underway at the Parliament building known as the Centre Block, which houses both the Senate Chamber and the House of Commons Chamber. The work is anticipated to take about 10 years to complete. To facilitate the rehabilitation, interim chambers were constructed in nearby buildings. An interim Senate Chamber was constructed within the recently renovated Government Conference Centre now known as the Senate of Canada Building. An interim House of Commons Chamber was constructed within a former courtyard at West Block on Parliament Hill.

While still located in Centre Block, the House of Commons Chamber first accommodated a quadriplegic Member of Parliament in 2004 by modifying the furniture in the room. In subsequent elections in 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2015, similar accommodations were made for Members with physical disabilities. Members with physical disabilities were accommodated in offices with closer proximity to the Chamber and accessible features, as supported by the Whips, to enable them to fulfill their parliamentary duties.

Standing Order 1.1, which reads as follows, was added to the Standing Orders of the House of Commons following the election of the first quadriplegic Member of Parliament in 2004:

Participation of members with disabilities.

The Speaker may alter the application of any standing or special order or practice of the House in order to permit the full participation in the proceedings of the House of any member with a disability.

In addition to the above-mentioned renovations, the Parliamentary Precinct is currently undergoing a complete rehabilitation to modernize and restore its heritage buildings, which is part of the Long Term Vision and Plan (LTVP) that was developed in 2001. One of the elements of this major rehabilitation project is to create an accessible Parliament, as stated in The Long Term Vision and Plan: Annual Report 2018 to 2019:

The grounds and buildings throughout the Parliamentary Precinct were designed and built over 100 years ago, long before accessibility standards were in place. This reality poses unique challenges with regards to the need to balance modern accessibility requirements with the preservation of heritage character. New and restored buildings throughout the precinct, including the West Block, Senate of Canada Building, and phase 1 of the Visitor Welcome Centre, have been designed and built to overcome these challenges and to meet and in, many cases, exceed building codes.

In accordance with Bill C-81, The Accessible Canada Act, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is addressing accessibility standards throughout its rehabilitation of the Parliamentary Precinct. PSPC is becoming a leader and model in the development of accessible environments by making the precinct more family friendly, inclusive, and open to the public. This commitment presents an opportunity in the development of the Campus Master Plan, whereby the integrated campus approach will continue to enhance accessibility across the entire precinct.

The rehabilitation of the Centre Block and redevelopment of Blocks 1, 2, and 3 will further allow PSPC to showcase global leadership in universal accessibility within a heritage context. PSPC’s design team is collaborating with all stakeholders to create a balance between accessibility, security, heritage, and existing site conditions, to position the precinct as a model of accessibility for generations to come.

It should be noted that facilities in Parliament are wheelchair accessible. The following are additional examples of renovations that have been made in recent years within the Parliamentary Precinct to address accessibility needs (source: Parliamentary Affairs section of Public Services and Procurement Canada):

  • Perimeter Security Barriers (2013) made specific provisions for clearance of oversized motorized wheelchairs (large format wheelchairs), at the main entry points to Parliament Hill.
  • Parliament Hill grounds (2014) made
    improvements to accessibility on the site, including the addition of gently ramped concrete pathways and curb cuts and modifications to building entrances.
  • The Sir John A. Macdonald Building renovation, completed in 2015 for the House of Commons, was built to respect accessibility requirements as per applicable codes and standards and includes the following accessibility features:
    • Elevators are accessible;
    • All doors in the new annex and the existing heritage building are accessible;
    • Accessible washrooms are provided;
    • All furniture layouts for Multipurpose Rooms I & II, for all scenarios, include spaces for wheelchairs;
    • All Break-Out Rooms are accessible.
  • Renovations were completed at The Wellington Building in 2016 for the House of Commons. It has enhanced accessibility provisions in all publicly accessed committee rooms. All main functions within the building, including vertical movement between floors via dedicated elevators, are designed for accessibility for persons with a severe mobility impairment/disability. The previous ramp leading from Sparks Street to the main floor has been improved and ensures free and practical access for persons with disabilities. The building also contains eight fully accessible Member of Parliament office suites, slightly over 10% of the total number of suites.
  • In the recently renovated West Block (2018), vertical access between all public areas allows for enhanced barrier-free access, including access to the House of Commons Interim Chamber, the upper public viewing gallery, access to committee rooms and access to parliamentarian office floors. One office suite is specifically adapted for enhanced accessibility. The Chamber has level access to approximately 10% of the seating for Members of Parliament. All Members are provided with assigned desks and chairs in the Chamber. The furniture arrangement does not allow barrier-free access in its present configuration, but accommodations are adapted to best respond to individual accessibility requirements, given the diverse range of accessibility needs. In the Chamber Galleries, space has been made to accommodate wheelchairs on the accessible level within the theatre-style seating. Seating is provided for an attendant or companion to be seated beside the person in a wheelchair.

As part of the requirements to ensure equal access to all for the Senate of Canada building (2018), additional elevating devices (elevators and wheelchair lifts) and accessible washrooms were added as part of the rehabilitation work.

In planning for new buildings, building connections, and current rehabilitation projects, the approach is to provide universal accessibility and balance the heritage constraints in existing buildings, to ensure Parliament is made physically accessible. This includes uniform floor levels with vertical movement provided by elevators as a minimum.

New signage in renovated buildings includes braille detail and the newer elevators have voice floor indicators. Accessible parking spaces are available to Members and staff.

The Senate

The summary below highlights various changes made within the Senate of Canada occupied buildings during the last 23 years to make spaces more accessible to parliamentarians, staff and/or visitors with disabilities.

1988 – wheelchair ramp installed at Centre Block (CB) east freight door

1992 – upgrade to accessible washrooms at main entrance at CB

1997 – installation of wheelchair ramp at translation booth room 160 at CB

1997 – Room 160S CB complex, fully accessible washrooms inside the space

1997 – wheelchair accessible ramp installed at temporary north loading dock at CB

1998 – fully accessible washrooms with East Block (EB) in the 1910 wing

1998 – elevator capability to 4th floor so wheelchairs could access room 362 EB meeting room

1999 – accessible washrooms with fit-up of 4 floors for the Administration move to Chambers building

2000 – upgrade to accessible washroom at rear of Senate Chamber (CB)

2000’s – automatic door opener upgrades at the Governor General (GG) and Privy Council (PC) main doors at EB

2000’s – automatic door opener upgrades at main doors VB

2002 – intercom installed at EB end of underground tunnel to CB for a disabled person to call Corporate Security Directorate (CSD) Ops Center if he/she requires help to climb the incline in tunnel to the CB side. This issue was noted after a disabled person visited an employee of the Senate in their workplace as an initiative of the Clerk to find out from disabled individuals what the barriers really are when accessing Senate buildings on Parliament Hill.

2000’s – installation of emergency buttons in all accessible designated washrooms (VB)

2002 – asphalt ramp installed at CB ice hut to allow a Senator at the time to enter the CB main door with his wheelchair.

2009 – accessible ramps to National Press building

2019 – SW Tower bypass project

2020 – replacement of portable hydraulic lift at main entrance steps to the National Press Building (Admin)

2021 – accessible upgrades to all washrooms at the EB

2021 – gender neutral accessible washroom pilot project at EB

2021 – PC entrance upgrade (railing extension at the ramp, door operators and intercom controls lowered, new door opener installed at new ballistic door, all aligned with CAN-CSA B651. Ramp itself, which does not meet current CAN-CSA, was not altered);

At the Senate of Canada Building (SCB), the temporary home to the Senate Chamber while the Parliament’s Centre Block is undergoing its first major rehabilitation since the building’s opening in 1920, the building was renovated in a way that ensures all senators, staff and visitors can easily function in the space. From barrier-free entrances to tactile signage and universal washrooms with changing tables, the SCB features a barrier-free path to provide easy access throughout the building. Visitors watching the proceedings from the public galleries are also offered wheelchair and adaptable seating.

Currently, with the passing of the Accessible Canada Act in July 2019, the Senate endeavours to support PSPC in creating a Parliamentary Precinct that enables everyone to participate fully in the workplace and the visitor experience without barriers. Since under the Act, the Government of Canada including parliament entities, are required to develop and publish accessibility plans that describe how it will identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility through the proactive identification, removal and prevention of accessibility barriers, to ensure persons with disabilities are no longer required to fight barriers to accessibility, the Senate has put together an internal working group to develop the initial Senate Accessibility Plan.

Quebec

On June 1, 2019, the reception pavilion of the National Assembly opened its doors to the public. It won the Universal Accessibility Award at the Gala of Awards for Excellence in Architecture (Ordre des architectes du Québec), in June 2020. Mirroring the democratic spirit of the institution, the architects chose to design a wide ramp whose spiral structure allows everyone to travel along the same route rather than creating a separate entrance for visitors with reduced mobility. It was an acknowledgement of the full membership of people with reduced mobility in Quebec’s society.

All areas of the Reception Pavilion are accessible to people with reduced mobility – visitors as well as staff and Members. A number of improvements have also enhanced accessibility to the Parliament Building and the Library.

New Brunswick

  • In October 1980 an elevator was installed in the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly
  • A ramp was installed at a side door of the building at an unknown date
  • The building went through a multiphase renovation project between 2006 and 2012 to both its exterior and interior. During this time a ramp was installed at the front of the building. A new side entrance was built including a new ramp
  • The main floor bathrooms were completely renovated making them wheelchair accessible by including an automatic door with a push switch, a large stall and grab bars

Nova Scotia

  • In 2013, when Kevin Murphy became the first Speaker in a wheelchair, a ramp was installed so that he could reach the Speaker’s dais.
  • An elevator was installed in 1979 (modernized in 2011) which allows persons with mobility impairments access to the second floor (where the Legislative Chamber and the Red Chamber—the Chamber used by our long-defunct upper house, and now used for Committee meetings and special events—are located) and the third floor, where the galleries are located.
  • In 2002, the back ground-floor entrance was renovated to make it completely accessible, complete with power-assist doors. A vault on the main floor was removed to accommodate an accessible entrance.
  • A resolution by MLA Mark Parent from November 14, 2002, explained the significance of these changes:

RESOLUTION NO. 4734

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas recently I took part in an exercise whereby I spent a day in a wheelchair to experience just how challenging it is for those who must do so every day; and

Whereas after this experience I realized how important the recent work to make this House accessible to those who are physically challenged was, a request from the League for Equal Opportunities (LEO) which moved forward due to the co-operation between the Office of the Speaker, LEO, and Transportation and Public Works; and

Whereas changes include a new sidewalk and exterior lighting leading to a fully accessible entrance, complete with power-assist doors as well as accessible washrooms;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge these efforts designed to ensure that Province House is physically accessible to all its citizens and thank employees of Transportation and Public Works who did such a fine job while respecting the heritage of Canada’s oldest legislative building.

  • There is also the current project that will make staff areas more accessible and bring the ramp on the 3rd floor up to code.

Prince Edward Island

The parliamentary precinct presently consists of Province House (closed since 2015 for a major conservation project managed by Parks Canada, estimated to re-open in 2023); the Hon. George Coles Building (the temporary Chamber, some Legislative Assembly administrative offices, and offices of the three caucuses); the Rectory (Office of the Speaker, Office of the Clerk); and the J. Angus MacLean Building (the legislative library, Hansard, and a few other offices).

Some accessibility modifications that have been made or are in the process of being made include:

Coles Building

  • -a few years ago the Assembly began allowing public access to the ground level entry, which has a ramp, in the Coles Building. Prior to that, the public had to climb a set of stairs to use the main door.
  • -in the last five years an accessible washroom was added on the first floor of the Coles Building, and in a recent renovation all the washrooms on the other levels were made accessible.

Province House

  • the Province House restoration project includes renovations that will make the building totally accessible. These include:
  • an accessible ramp in the main entryway (on the south end of the building); the main washrooms will be in the basement level and will be accessible via a new zero-turn elevator;
  • elevator access to all four floors as opposed to only three before. (The elevator will also be made larger);
  • an accessible/universal washroom on all floors of the building;
  • accessibility modifications will also be made to the first floor theatre, second floor Legislative Assembly Chamber and third floor public gallery.

Other

  • Although not a building renovation, closed captioning of the broadcast of House and committee proceedings was added in the past 2-3 years.

Yukon

In terms of recent accessibility renovations/accommodations, renovations were completed to the public washrooms outside the Visitors’ Gallery entrance to the Chamber in 2016.. Post-renovation, while there is just one public washroom, it is barrier-free and accessible (e.g., wide door, automatic lights, grab bars, baby change-table), and gender-neutral. At the moment, no additional accessibility renovations/accommodations are planned, however, this could change (e.g., if a Member has accessibility requirements). Just a note – the Yukon Legislative Assembly Chamber, and the Assembly’s precincts (at this point, the precincts are not defined in legislation) are contained within the Government of Yukon’s Main Administration Building.

Nunavut

The territory’s Assembly building has always had wheelchair accessibility including outside parking.

The main internal entry doors both outside and inside have accessible door openers and the washrooms and water fountains were designed to be are “disability friendly”.

Although no MLA currently has a disability requiring accommodations in office space, the Assembly would renovate offices as needed.

Northwest Territories

2012/2013 – National Building Code Upgrades

To address changes in the 2010 National Building Code, specifically to allow for an 800mm clear door opening, the following upgrades were completed in February 2013:

  • installation of 10 new tempered glass doors and associated hardware that lead to the Office of the Clerk, the Library, the Rear Chamber Corridor – 1st Floor, the Café, public washrooms, the Elevator Lobby/Official Symbols Display Area, Member’s offices, executive offices, Committee Room A, Members’ offices/Committee Room B
  • installation of two new wooden doors and associated hardware at the Public Gallery entrance.

The following adjustments were made to existing building infrastructure:

  • removal of door closer mechanisms from the wooden doors for the two ground floor wheelchair accessible washrooms
  • adjustment of several ‘flip up’ seats in the Public Gallery to remain down to allow for ease of access for persons with canes, crutches, etc.

2014/2015 – Phase 1 Upgrades

  • installation of electrically assisted door opening mechanisms in the doors to the two ground floor wheelchair accessible washrooms
  • installation of electrically assisted door opening mechanisms on glass doors to Committee Room A and the Library
  • installation of one companion seat in each wheelchair area (two) of the Visitors’ Gallery
  • removal of the glass door leading to the public washrooms
  • removal of the shelving from the corridor leading to the public washrooms

2015/2016 – Phase 2 Upgrades

  • installation of electrically assisted door opening mechanisms on the glass doors leading to Members’ offices and executive council offices (back hallway behind Chamber, Office of Clerk, Members’ Offices/Committee Room B)
  • installation of contrasting edging around all glass door openings
  • installation of contrasting strip on all slate tile stair nosing