Alex Browne photo Canada’s ‘Man in Motion’ Rick Hansen exchanged notes with inclusive design specialist Stan Leyenhorst following the ceremony awarding Rick Hansen Foundation gold accessibility certification to South Surrey’s Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre.

Alex Browne photo Canada’s ‘Man in Motion’ Rick Hansen exchanged notes with inclusive design specialist Stan Leyenhorst following the ceremony awarding Rick Hansen Foundation gold accessibility certification to South Surrey’s Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre.

Rick Hansen awards gold certification to South Surrey aquatic centre

Grandview Heights facility named one of the most accessible in Canada

Surrey’s Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre is pure gold as far as Rick Hansen is concerned.

Describing it as a “fantastic, welcoming place,” Canada’s Man In Motion – internationally famous for wheeling 40,000 km between 1985 and 1987 for his world tour to raise awareness of the potential of people with disabilities and promoting accessibility – was at the South Surrey facility Tuesday to present it with gold certification on behalf of the Rick Hansen Foundation.

Grandview Heights is one of the first aquatics facilities in Canada to receive the foundation’s highest certification, based on its wide range of accessibility features, including ramped access to pools and hot tubs; a portable lift to access the main pool; inclusive and adapted fitness equipment; accessible showers, change rooms, steam rooms and saunas; accessible parking and curb cuts for wheelchairs and signage and wayfinding that includes braille and other tactile recognition formats.

In thanking local staff and designers for embracing accessibility concepts, Hansen said “I can have a dream and and a goal, but it takes many people to achieve that.”

He called on other communities, architects and designers to follow Surrey’s lead.

“Disability is a big deal,” he added, noting that World Health Organization figures put the number of disabled people globally at some 1.3 billion.

He added noted that, in Canada, given the aging population, “it’s an issue that’s just getting bigger – 50 per cent of Canadians have some kind of disability, or have a family member who is affected.”

On hand for the ceremony were Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum, Brad McCannell, vice president of access and inclusion for the foundation, and Surrey Couns. Brenda Locke and Doug Elford.

“We want to set the pace for becoming the most accessible city in B.C.,” McCallum said.

McCannell noted that the foundation has now trained more than 150 designers across Canada in providing accessibility features for public facilities.

Ceremony host Laurie Cavan, Surrey general manager of parks recreation and culture, also announced a new initiative to provide “sensory friendly places,” including noise-reduction headsets, at the centre – a B.C. first. These are seen as a benefit for individuals with autism, particularly children, requiring reduced input from the sensory environment.

“(We want) every child in our community to have the opportunity to be included, and the opportunity to lean to swim,” she said.