Central Huron won the Inclusive Community Based Initiative Award at this year's Economic Developers Council of Ontario Conference for their Shop-ability Project to create an entire downtown that was accessible.
Community Improvement Coordinator Angela Smith says people without an accessibility challenge often take their mobility for granted, but one of the things she learned in the process of creating an accessible downtown is that accessibility is for everyone.
“That was really highlighted during the COVID early days when we were using automatic door openers for people to come and go, so that it was hand free. So automatic door openers are there for everyone, not just for those with physical disabilities," Smith explained.
One group that has been really vocal about appreciating the effort to improve accessibility is young families pushing strollers.
“Young families pushing strollers. They are very difficult to manoeuvre in our downtown and having ramps and automatic door openers just makes life so much easier," shared Smith.
Smith says one business owner told her just last week that young families are so pleased that they can get in and out with the push of a button that they're seeing more people come in with strollers. Smith adds, Central Huron also won second place for the Rural Excellence Award, which they won last year. And this year the award was for the virtual Downtown Historic Tour, which gives people the opportunity to see the down town area as it was several years ago.