Where we are: Not everyone in Calgary experiences the same degree of access and safety. How many of our streets are unsafe for children? How many times does a sidewalk detour make it impossible for people with disabilities or mobility challenges to navigate? How often have women been threatened and assaulted in public spaces? It feels like everyday I see a headline that reads “Reported attacks on women in Calgary spark social media awareness movement” or “Calgary pub increases security following reports of attacks against women.” It is important for Calgary to recognize that our city does not serve everyone equally.
Where we can go, together: Creating a city of universally accessible and safe communities means that we make the necessary changes to our infrastructure and culture to reduce and eliminate the barriers that prevent many people from truly enjoying the city they call home.
Calgary should be a city where we understand our shortcomings and actively address them. We should be building more accessible parks for children of diverse abilities to enjoy. Street corners should be built not for the movement of cars, but for the safety of pedestrians. Our streets should be well lit and designed to make people feel safe at night. Our transit system must offer everyone the ability to ride knowing that they are completely safe at every stop, at every train station, and everywhere in between.
Social: A city built with universal design in mind recognizes that if we (re)build aspects of Calgary informed by the way people experience it, we will create more spaces where everyone can feel safe and independent and secure. Calgary was not built with everyone in mind. If we ensure that Ward 8, and Calgary, is designed and redesigned with those who have been underserved by our present infrastructure, we will further increase the inclusivity necessary for people to truly feel like their city was built for them.
Economical: There is an economic cost to not creating communities where every Calgarian can take part in every aspect of where they live. Designing a universal city increases the economic engagement of every citizen. There is a direct correlation between creating accessible and safe environments with increased economic participation.
Our public services and amenities must reflect the diverse needs of those who use them. In order to build services and amenities throughout the city, it is imperative that our systems accommodate the needs of every person, keep them safe, and ensure that your tax dollars are working for you.
Environmental: Our communities should be accessible to all, no matter the season and weather conditions. As part of our commitment to support the vibrancy of our communities, we need to ensure our city is prepared to handle drastic climate events. This means snow removal on our streets, sidewalks and bike lanes; heating and cooling systems on all our trains and buses; publicly accessible water fountains and bathrooms; extreme heat and cold weather strategies.
We have an opportunity to make Ward 8 and Calgary a place where everyone can move freely, safely, and easily at all times of day and in any season.
- Develop and adopt a Universal Design and Accessible Planning strategy for public spaces and infrastructure, working directly with people with disabilities and The City’s Advisory Committee on Accessibility.
- Enhance standards for accessible sidewalk, bike, and street detours during public infrastructure construction or modification, including temporary structures like patio extensions and sidewalk repairs.
- Establish an intersectional review of Calgary infrastructure identifying gaps in accessibility and safety.
- Partner with social agencies who are working to end gender-based violence on an educational campaign to raise awareness.
- Update the 311 app to make it easier to report and track accessibility issues throughout Calgary.
- Increase or improve lighting at every transit station across the city.
- Establish a forum for ongoing collection and discussion of suggestions from the public on how to improve accessibility and safety of their neighborhood streets.
- Work with disability advocates and other municipalities in Alberta to ask the Provincial Government to pass legislation to set accessibility standards for public, private, and non-profit organizations (e.g., The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005; The Accessibility for Manitobans Act, Nova Scotia Accessibility Act).
- Create an extreme heat and extreme cold emergency response strategy for Calgary, including provision of publicly accessible cooling centres and water stations, and working with social agencies to ensure the most vulnerable have access to protection and medical care for extreme temperature situations.