The long – and at times uphill – struggle by a Kapiti disability group has succeeded in getting the Kapiti Coast Council to put back a ramp at the new Aquatic Centre.
A member of the Disability Reference Group, which campaigned hard for the Council to reinstate its original plan for a ramp, says:
“We’ve had “a positive Human Rights Commission mediation with KCDC. Issues around the ramp access have been resolved.”
But the spokesperson adds: “There are some additional points for further discussion…and we’ll be working on these collaboratively in the expectation they will be resolved.”
Remarkable about-face by Council
It’s a remarkable about-face by the Kapiti Council from its position a month or so ago.
Previously, the KCDC maintained a line saying it couldn’t put a ramp in the main pool because of the moveable floor at the new Aquatic Centre.
This line, adopted late last year after years of promising a ramp to disabled groups, drew a huge wave of protest — and the prospect of protests at the opening of the pool.
But the ‘Bring Back the Ramp’ group said it was a fact that both a moveable floor and a ramp had always been possible.
It said the Council was still trying to sell ‘accessible stairs’ (apparently having already purchased these) despite the elderly and disabled telling them since January that stairs were not accessible, nor acceptable.
Design for ramp
When the Council finally changed its mind it stated: “An initial design for a removable ramp for the Coastlands Aquatic Centre’s main pool is under way.
“This follows approval in principle this week by the Dutch company supplying the moveable floor, VarioPool, for Council to get a ramp designed locally.
However, the KCDC said, the ramp’s design had to be approved by VarioPool before it will guarantee it would not void aspects of the warranty.
Previous advice for KCDC
The KCDC added:“Previous advice to Council has been that a removable ramp is not possible with the moveable floor.
“In response to further pressure from Council, VarioPool has reconfirmed it considers a removable ramp is technically and operationally unworkable. However, they agreed to review a local design that could be manufactured in New Zealand.”
It also said the design of the removable ramp was being undertaken in consultation with the Disability Reference Group as well other interested parties.