Tories to vote on ‘visitability’

A resolution to make homes more accessible is being put forward at the Progressive Conservative convention this weekend in Red Deer.

A resolution to make homes more accessible is being put forward at the Progressive Conservative convention this weekend in Red Deer.

The resolution suggests having incentives for builders who make homes with three-foot wide doors, washrooms on the main floor and zero-step entrances — meaning they have at least one entrance where steps don’t have to be manoeuvred to get inside. The proposal is recommended by the Red Deer South Alberta Progressive Conservative Constituency Association.

Known as “visitability” homes, the structures allow anyone to visit or live in the home no matter if they are in a wheelchair or have mobility issues.

“If we can expand this concept to communities, to complexes, to developments we are going to create communities where people can thrive at every stage of life and be involved in the community regardless of their ability or age,” said Marlin Styner, a board member of the Red Deer South Alberta Progressive Conservative Constituency Association. He was appointed chair of the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities last year.

The resolution says 13.6 per cent of Albertans have disabilities and close to 26 per cent of the population will be over 60 years old by 2021.

“There is a silver tsunami heading our way. All those bad knees, bad hips, bad hearts, bad ears, bad eyes, bad backs. It’s the same issues people with disabilities have been facing for years, but a much larger portion of the population is soon going to be facing those issues,” Styner said. “What we need to do is address those issues now before it is too late. When we have a population that is aging and needs that support, if we can’t keep them in their homes we are going to have huge problems in this province and everywhere else trying to support people.”

Styner said it is much easier and cheaper to put these features in place while a structure is being built than to renovate it afterwards.

He said it could mean money saved by the health-care system, with people being able to stay in their own homes longer. He said there are many people who are stuck in hospital beds and long-term care facilities because they can’t get around their own houses.

“People with disabilities have been looking at housing like this for a long time and trying to get people to buy into it,” Styner said. “But it’s not just for people with disabilities. It’s for everyone.”

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