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Shire Hall accessibility upgrades moving forward

Upgrades to improve accessibility at Shire Hall in Picton are moving forward as the project must be substantially completed by year-end to use project type specific grant funding.

In May, council had shelved an extensive renovation project, asking staff to investigate other uses for grant money previously received ($130,000 municipal modernization funding), noting a $428,627 project may be premature as a full accommodation plan for Shire hall is still under way. However, earlier this month a new $199,174 was received from the federal and provincial governments for the purpose of improving municipal infrastructure. Council has allocated an additional $100,000 to cover the municipality’s share of the project.

The updated plans include:
– Altering the current ramp at the side of Shire Hall and creating a new entrance to make it easier for people using a wheeled mobility device to access the building
– Renovating the main floor bathrooms to make them universal with barrier-free features to accommodate a wheeled mobility device
– Upgrading the council chambers to meet requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The work in the Council Chambers will also include improvements to audio and visual technology.

The design phase for the project is under way and is expected to move to tender for construction in August or September. Under the terms of the funding agreement, the project must be completed by Dec. 31, 2021.

Shire Hall was constructed in 1874, including council Chambers on the second floor, where meetings have been taking place in some form ever since.

With physical distancing requirements in place since March 2020, Council has physically met in the chambers on one occasion. Council will return to a hybrid model for its meetings in August with councillors gathering in person at the Wellington and District Community Centre but no public attendance. Meetings will be streamed live on YouTube. Council meetings at Shire Hall will resume when it is safe to do so under the COVID-19 protocols.

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