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Outdoor Cafes Could Be Wheelchair Accessible in 2004

(Thursday, May 29/2003)-- Halifax Regional Council may soon be asked to consider making all outdoor cafes accessible to persons with disabilities, effective next year.

For several months now, HRM staff has been reviewing the outdoor café policy, which came into being in 1997. HRM has sought input from, and consulted with, the local chapter of the Canadian Paraplegic Association regarding the accessibility issue regarding outdoor cafes. The vast majority of the 27 outdoor cafes approved, or expected to be approved this season, are accessible to persons with disabilities.

Phil Francis, HRM's Right-of-Way Engineer, said "Staff will soon present an Information Report to Halifax Regional Council regarding the outdoor café policy. This will be followed by recommended changes to existing HRM Policy. If approved by Council, they will require all sidewalk cafes to be accessible in the 2004 summer café season. Ample time will be given for non-accessible cafes to make the proper changes required for the 2004 summer café season."

HRM staff will continue to consult with the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Nova Scotia) over the summer months, to review and identify any existing hazards that may require either immediate change, or change for the 2004 summer café season.

Laughie Rutt, Executive Director of Canadian Paraplegic Association, said "The decision to review, and hopefully change, the policy on sidewalks cafes is monumental. It goes beyond just outdoor cafes---- it sets a tone in municipal relations towards persons with disabilities that is both progressive and forward thinking."

Mr. Rutt said the policy review announcement comes at a very important time---- National Access Awareness Week is being celebrated May 26th to May 30th.


John O'Brien
HRM Corporate Communications Officer
(902) 490-6531

Laughie Rutt
Canadian Paraplegic Association (Nova Scotia)
(902) 423-1277 Ext 105

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