Kapiti’s new Aquatic Centre is on schedule to open in March without being accessible to many of the disabled and impaired people who form a significant proportion of Kapiti’s population.
Apart from the often-cited one-in-five people with disabilities nationally, the ratio rises in Kapiti which has NZ’s largest proportion of people over 65 (around 25 percent) many of whom have age and health related impairments.
Kapiti Coast District Council is funding the lion’s share ($16.8 million) of the $21.1 million cost of the new pools complex which will replace the aged but ramp-equipped Raumati Pool.
No ramp and no user-op lift-chair
However, the new pool will have neither a ramp nor a user-operated lift-chair which was suggested by the Kapiti Disability Reference Group as a means by which the council could meet the Building Code requirements of NZ Standard 4121.
KCDC assured the disability community for more than two years that a ramp into the main pool would be provided. Then there was a change of mind three months ago when the DRG was advised that a ramp was not possible. The problem became a public issue last week when Cr Gurunathin called on the council to clarify reports that full access would not be provided.
Council community services group manager Tamsin Evans disclosed that the pool had not been designed to enable “unaided access for those without the ability to walk”.
Why should KCDC ignore NZ building code?
So here’s the question:
How can KCDC, in making the new pool unavailable to disabled people who are affected by mental, physical, hearing or sight impairment – all listed in the NZ Standard – ignore the Building Code?
The Standard says that the pool shall be available from an accessible route and that unaided access to the water shall be possible from the poolside. It further defines accessible route as being “a continuous route that can be negotiated unaided by a wheelchair user, walking device or by a person with a guide dog”:
“The route shall extend from the street boundary and car parking area to those spaces within the building required to be accessible to enable people with disabilities to carry out normal activities and processes within the building.”
Complaints have been made to the Human Rights Commission.