Nanaimo Monday, August 29, 2022, 2:00 PM
Vancouver Island University (VIU) is upgrading its campuses to become more inclusive and accessible.
“Our post-secondary institutions are committed to making sure learning environments are accessible for all students,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “Improving accessibility will boost participation in campus activities, education and training for many students with disabilities, community members, faculty and staff who would have otherwise faced challenges. This helps support our Future Ready commitment to making education and training more accessible to help prepare students for careers and to thrive in today’s economy.”
The Province is investing $3.3 million in upgrades for hard-to-access areas on VIU’s Nanaimo campus. The campus is located on a steep slope with 409 stairs from bottom to top. The funding will improve access to many teaching spaces, buildings and locations on campus that are currently a challenge for many people. The investment will also support the creation of universally accessible gender-neutral washrooms on all three VIU campuses (Nanaimo, Cowichan and Powell River) in buildings that do not have universal washrooms.
“One of the key commitments in our five-year strategic plan People, Place, Potential is to welcome a larger and more diverse population of learners,” said Deborah Saucier, president and vice-chancellor, VIU. “In recent years, VIU has significantly invested in capital improvements to increase the accessibility of our campus, as one of the many ways we are working toward making post-secondary education available to all at VIU. We are grateful to the Province of British Columbia for their continued commitment to assist us in building a more accessible campus.”
Vancouver Island University established a universal access committee in 2017 and has since been undertaking accessibility and inclusion projects, including a $2.9-million investment from the Province. In addition to furthering the university’s goals, these accessibility upgrades also align with the Province’s AccessibleBC Plan, which outlines how the government intends to identify, remove and prevent barriers for people.
The upgrades will also be environmentally friendly, advancing the Province’s CleanBC goal of reducing climate pollution and making cleaner solutions more convenient, available and affordable for British Columbians.
This year, the Province invested more than $7 million to help many other post-secondary institutions undertake accessibility upgrades on campuses throughout B.C. Accessibility considerations are a focus for all new learning spaces and student housing buildings being built in B.C.’s post-secondary sector. Many projects, including the upgrades at Vancouver Island University, seek Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility certification, a national rating system that measures and certifies the level of meaningful access of buildings and sites.
Funding for the accessibility upgrades is part of StrongerBC’s Future Ready Plan. Future Ready is making education and training more accessible, affordable and relevant to help businesses grow and prepare British Columbians for the jobs of tomorrow.
Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility –
“Building a barrier-free B.C. means integrating accessibility into every aspect of our lives, and that includes addressing physical entry challenges. We are creating a new path that breaks down barriers, promotes inclusion and equity, and creates a culture of inclusion for all the students and staff of Vancouver Island University.”
Sheila Malcolmson, MLA for Nanaimo –
“VIU’s 409 stairs are a challenge for anyone; our steep-sloped campus is beautiful but a real barrier for some students. I’m so happy we can clear the path for students, by funding $3.3 million for Vancouver Island University’s accessibility work.”
Linda Derksen, universal access lead and chair of the universal access committee, VIU –
“We are so grateful to the Province for these investments to make our steep campus more accessible. VIU is developing a wonderful reputation as a leader in the post-secondary sector for prioritizing accessibility. The physical changes we have made on our campus so far have sparked enthusiasm in the entire campus community to do what they can to be more accessible and inclusive. We are seeing a very positive and exciting culture change. Many people have commented that improving our physical access, it makes life easier for everyone. Ramps help people with poor knees, and powered door openers also help people pushing carts and parents with strollers.”
Learn more about accessibility at VIU: https://youtu.be/-rwUj8_OhdA
A backgrounder follows.
- Vancouver Island University’s existing infrastructure will be renovated, refurbished and upgraded to meet people’s needs and make the university more accessible for everyone.
- Planning and design will begin in fall 2022 and the work is expected to be completed by early 2025.
- The project cost is $3.5 million with the Province funding $3.3 million.
- Planned projects include:
- upgrade of nine non-accessible washrooms to be universally accessible and inclusive;
- remediation of the three steepest and least navigable ramp and sidewalk routes, making them easier to use; and
- renovation of eight-tiered classrooms to permit access and full participation for all users.
- Where applicable, new mechanical and electrical systems will be replaced with low-energy consumption options, including LED lighting, energy-efficient fans and low-flow plumbing fixtures.
- Enhancing pedestrian mobility around campus will reduce the need for people to use vehicles to transport themselves up and down the sloped campus.
This is on bc govt Govt Website go to the link here