The Kapiti Coast District Council’s CEO has apologised to the disabled and elderly community for the ‘frustration and hurt’ caused by the Council’s handling of the pool ramp issue.
The KCDC originally promised to put in a ramp in the new pool, then changed its mind. But after massive protests it went back to the drawing board to get a last-minute add-on ramp at an extra cost of about $100,000 on the pool cost of $21 million.
The Council’s Chief Executive, Pat Dougherty, has now issued an unprecedented full apology.
The apology was delivered after mediation by the Human Rights Commission between Council and Ramp Equal Access Coalition Team (REACT), which challenged the adequacy of access provisions for disabled and elderly users of the new Coastland’s Aquatic Centre.
Mr Dougherty says: “We acknowledge the role REACT has played in achieving this outcome and I’d like to thank them for their advocacy on behalf of the disabled and elderly users in the community”.
Mr Dougherty says Council has always been sincere in its aim to provide a facility that meets the needs of everyone in the community, but accepts it could have done more to ensure a ramp was provided as promised from the start.
‘Told a ramp wasn’t possible’
“We were told a ramp wasn’t possible with the moveable floor in our facility,” he says. “We believed that was the best information available and proceeded on that basis. In hindsight, we shouldn’t have accepted this and should have consulted the affected community about other possible options.”
Ramp Equal Access Team delighted
Erica Cooney, Spokesperson for the Ramp Equal Access Coalition Team (REACT), says she is delighted with the outcome.
“It has taken time and hard work by a number of individuals and agencies to have reached this stage,” she says.
“Having a ramp at the Coastlands Aquatic Centre recognises the fact that Kapiti has a significantly higher proportion of elderly and people with disabilities than the national average.
“The ramp provides an extra level of accessibility and means those people will be able to use the pool with safety, ease, dignity, independence, inclusiveness and equality.”
A ramp for the main pool at the Coastlands Aquatic Centre has now met design and warranty requirements with VarioPool, supplier of the moveable floor.
Mr Dougherty says Council is working to progress the detailed design and tender process for the ramp with the aim of having it ready to use by October.
In the meantime, Council will hold a workshop with representatives of disability groups and agencies to review processes and identify any further accessibility requirements at the Coastlands Aquatic Centre. This will provide a robust platform that will inform future council planning and projects.
As soon as access provisions and the ramp are operational, there will be a celebration recognising the Coastlands Aquatic Centre is fully accessible, usable and inclusive for virtually everyone in Kapiti,” Mr Dougherty says. “It will be enjoyed by many generations ahead and is truly a facility to be proud of.”