According to Gina MacArthur, media relations manager on behalf of Service NL, the requirements for building accessibility are outlined in the Buildings Accessibility Act.
Under the Act, all buildings that are open to the public and built after Dec. 24, 1981 are required to meet the Buildings Accessibility Act.
However, buildings built before this date are exempt from legislation, unless they were renovated at a cost equal to or exceeding 50 per cent of the building’s value.
Gary Regular, supervisor of technical services with the Town of Gander, was able to confirm that many of the buildings in Town Square were built previous to Dec. 24, 1981, meaning that the businesses are not required to meeting provincial accessibility standards.
“That’s a fair statement,” said Regular.
Regular explained that the town’s permit history goes back to 1965, although there are maps that show some businesses in place circa 1959.
Regular did highlight that some structures have been built more recently or renovated and fall within accessibility standards.
When asked if Gander’s Town Square was failing to meet accessibility standards, MacArthur said requirements vary based on a number of factors.
“Without undertaking an inspection of the specific businesses to which you refer, we are unable to determine if this is the case,” she wrote via email.
MacArthur also explained that if a business fails to meet building accessibility standards, Service NL does have the authority to issue an order to an offending business deemed in violation of accessibility legislation.
The issue in Gander, specifically pertaining to the Town Square, is that the majority of businesses fall outside the Buildings Accessibility Act based on age.