People with physical disabilities shouldn’t be discounted when designing developments, said Coun. Terri O’Keeffe, as council discussed a new townhouse proposal for Resthaven Drive. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

People with physical disabilities shouldn’t be discounted when designing developments, said Coun. Terri O’Keeffe, as council discussed a new townhouse proposal for Resthaven Drive. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Sidney councillor calls for attitude adjustment around accessibility

Terri O’Keeffe said developers need to rethink housing options for disabled residents

A Sidney councillor is calling on developers to change their assumptions about people with disabilities.

Coun. Terri O’Keeffe expressed disappointment with the design of a proposed multi-family residential development on Resthaven Drive that would be part of a larger complex.

“I think we have to start changing our mindset in making assumptions about where persons with disabilities (live),” she said during June 28 council discussions of a development application for 10474 Resthaven Dr.

Plans call for two three-storey multi-family residential buildings, each featuring four three-bedroom townhouse units. They will become part of the recently approved townhouse development at 10478 and 10482 Resthaven Dr.

In a presentation, Will Peereboom of Victoria Design said the design of the buildings in question would mirror those of the approved development. This means people living in the adaptable units of the development would not have direct access to their patios.

“Again, we don’t anticipate that somebody would be looking to purchase these units if they were already disabled or in a wheelchair,” he said. “Once you are fully in a wheelchair, you would probably move to something different than this. It’s really not marketed for that type of market.”

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Peereboom, whose grandson uses a wheelchair, conceded the scenario is not ideal. “But it is what is working best for this site,” he said.

That statement did not sit well with O’Keeffe, who said it’s wrong to assume people with disabilities wouldn’t be interested.

“They are not going to live there if they can’t get equal access to all parts of their properties,” she said.

O’Keeffe did appear pleased with comments from Peereboom that the wider-than-necessary accessible parking garages would accommodate vehicles with rear as well as side-facing doors.

While council forwarded the application to the town’s advisory planning commission for review, other points of concern were highlighted.

Coun. Scott Garnett agreed with concerns about the massing of the proposed development.

Coun. Barbara Fallot added that Sidney faces a growing tension between the need for housing and green space in the face of climate change, as the community densifies.

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wolfgang.depner @peninsulanewsreview.com

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