SURREY, B.C. — Surrey has become the first municipality in the country to commit to constructing all new civic buildings to Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification (RHFAC) Gold standards.
City officials made the announcement during National AccessAbility Week. The week celebrates the contributions of Canadians living with disabilities and recognizes the efforts of individuals, communities and workplaces that are working to remove barriers to accessibility and inclusion.
“By taking this step, we are making a commitment to ensure that people of all ages and abilities can fully participate in everyday life in Surrey,” said Mayor Doug McCallum in a statement. “We are proud to be the first city in Canada to make this proclamation, and we thank the Rick Hansen Foundation for their partnership and support as we press forward to design all future civic facilities in a way that will be accessible for everyone.”
The certification rates the level of meaningful accessibility of buildings and sites, based on the holistic user experience of people with varying disabilities affecting their mobility, vision and hearing.
Surrey was one of the first Canadian municipalities to receive an RHFAC Gold rating. It has gone on to submit 43 facilities to the rating system, 29 of which have been certified. Five of those achieved Gold.
To date, over 1,300 sites across Canada have been rated through the program.
Gold rated facilities must achieve an 80 per cent minimum, the primary entrance must be accessible, have audio-visual alarms, safety warning features and include assistive listening and communication enhancement technology.
A feasibility study conducted by HCMA Architecture + Design showed achieving RHFAC Gold typically only costs one per cent more on average and 0.4 per cent for office buildings when the standard is targeted from the design phase.
“Congratulations to the City of Surrey and Mayor McCallum for this significant commitment towards more accessible and inclusive communities for people of all abilities,” said Rick Hansen, founder of the Rick Hansen Foundation. “Surrey’s commitment to build to RHFAC and reach a higher standard is not only the right thing to do but opens up their city to more visitors, customers and employees, unleashing the potential of people with disabilities and benefiting all of us. I encourage other municipal leaders to follow Surrey’s leadership.”