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City of Port Alberni, ACRD want to improve accessibility with new survey

Survey is open until March 31
The ACRD and City of Port Alberni joint accessibility committee includes public members Amber Severinson, Helen Dick, Deanna Spencer, Nicole Uzelman, Rainie O’Connor and Jamie Tattrie in addition to Donna Monteith and Cindy Solda from the city, Heather Zenner and Vaida Siga from the ACRD. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District and City of Port Alberni have partnered to craft an accessibility plan for the Alberni Valley. The plan is part of the Accessible British Columbia Act, a provincial initiative designed to improve accessibility for residents and visitors to the province.

“This is the first time we’ve had an accessibility plan at the regional district,” said ACRD manager of administrative services Heather Zenner, who is project leader. City of Port Alberni director of corporate services Donna Monteith is the city’s lead. “The plan is going to come with recommendations to the board,” Zenner said.

Accessibility is the cornerstone of an inclusive and livable community, which Zenner says means more than just physical barriers—it also covers areas such as navigating a website or social media, and making areas inclusive for people who are neuro-divergent too.

One of the first tasks was to form an accessibility committee with representatives from both the city and ACRD. Six committee members—the majority of whom either live with a disability or support persons with disabilities—met for the first time on March 5. Cindy Solda and Vaida Siga (Area C director) represent the city and ACRD, respectively.

The committee has created an online survey and are asking people across the Alberni Valley and the west coast to fill it out before the end of March.

A consultant visited the Alberni Valley in January and completed a facilities assessment. For the ACRD that meant the office on Fifth Avenue, Sproat Lake and Beaver Creek fire halls and the Third Avenue Recycling Depot. On the west coast the site visits included the airport and landfill. The ACRD already knows it has challenges at its headquarters in Port Alberni, Zenner said, and has been applying for funding to try and reconfigure its front door.

In addition to the survey the ACRD has a feedback form on its website where they encourage people to write in specific accessibility issues.

“If someone has a barrier in the ACRD we’re encouraging them to come here and share it with us,” Zenner said. People may upload photos or videos of specific barriers to accessibility as they live, work or recreate in the Alberni Valley. This goes for both the city and rural areas.

The survey is open until March 31. Find it at under the Accessibility Planning link.

The next accessibility committee meeting is planned for April 9 at 10 a.m. in the ACRD boardroom, 3008 Fifth Ave. Meetings are also available via Zoom, and are listed on the ACRD’s meetings and agendas link at

Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I proudly serve as the Alberni Valley News editor.
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