Accessibility at front doors of courthouse a problem

Pictou-Advocate-opinion

To the Editor:

The courthouse doors in Pictou were raised as an issue this week at a meeting of Let Abilities Work Partnership Society. Large and heavy doors, not equipped with power assists, present a significant challenge for the growing numbers of seniors and others with mobility disabilities in our communities who may wish to gain access to the building. It’s a very important public building!

Members of the public from all over Pictou County need to attend and be served there with regard to matters held in our Supreme Court, Provincial Court, Family Court, Small Claims Court, Probate Court or to visit the Sheriff’s Office.

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The courthouse building was constructed about 25-30 years ago as part of the town’s waterfront redevelopment which occurred under the influence of the Pictou Waterfront Development Company Limited with a combination of federal, provincial, municipal and private funding. It is a public building but is it a municipal, provincial or federal responsibility?

No one at our meeting knew in what jurisdiction the courthouse falls. So I was asked to put the matter out there before the public in hope that whichever body is responsible for the courthouse building will take action to resolve the problem.

I wrote up a letter on the issue from meeting notes which I sent to our MLA Karla MacFarlane. She replied that she’d look into the matter ASAP and asked that I advise if it was both the front and back doors that were a problem.

Karla is a very wise lady! What I sent previously was written from meeting notes but when, at her suggestion, I checked the building today, I found that only its front door on 69 Water Street is a problem. Its back door on Caladh Avenue is properly equipped and accessible.

The front door’s accessibility should still be addressed. The building’s official address as advertised to the public is 69 Water Street, so if for some reason a decision has been made not to equip its front door with an electric opener, there should at least be signage there directing those who need it to the back entrance.

The good news in this is that, as an accessibility problem, it can be readily fixed by adding a direction sign at the front doors or better still, by the addition of power assists. Thus, now that we’ve pointed it out, we hope that whoever is responsible for maintaining the courthouse building will take the appropriate steps to have the problem resolved.

Ralph Ferguson, Director

Let Abilities Work Partnership Society