Surrey is the first city in Canada to commit to building to a Gold level using Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification (RHFAC) for all future civic facilities. The announcement comes during National AccessAbility Week 2021, taking place from May 30 to June 5, 2021. The week celebrates the valuable 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. “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. When we remove barriers, we create a place that is inclusive to everyone.”
The RHFAC 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 and now has 43 rated civic facilities, including 29 that have been certified, and five that have achieved Gold.
To receive an RHFAC Gold rating, sites must receive a minimum of 80 per cent on their rating scorecard, the primary entrance must be accessible, audio-visual alarms, safety warning features, and assistive listening and communication enhancement technology must be present where applicable. A feasibility study conducted by HCMA Architecture + Design (HCMA) showed only a one per cent average increase in construction cost (or 0.4 per cent for office buildings) to achieve RHFAC Gold compared to national or Ontario building code when thoughtful planning and design is applied upfront, which is what Surrey is doing.
“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,” said Rick Hansen, founder of the Rick Hansen Foundation.