An online petition currently circulating in Westman is advocating for Brandon City Council to take a serious look at addressing accessibility challenges at Brandon's Community Sportsplex during the current budgeting season.
Created by local non-profit Inclusion Westman, identified barriers in need of improving at the facility include limited accessible parking, inaccessible doors, lack of functioning handheld showers and washrooms/change rooms that do not meet diverse needs.
On the petition, it’s stated that with a show of community support the City will be better positioned, “in partnership with relevant advocacy groups, to budget, petition and apply for funding that will help create a more inclusive community. “
Currently the petition as of the time of this posting had reached 1,928 signatures.
Online petitions have at times played a prominent role in local decision-making over the past year, with a June petition to stop the use of single-use plastic bags in the community receiving 1,176 signatures and a petition to stop Park Community Centre’s demolition reaching 2,629 signatures in December. In both cases the public support shown appeared to support further dialogue at the Council level.
As was the case with Park Community Centre and other facility investments, council has the unenviable task of balancing community need with available funding and any need or ability to acquire further funds. Generally, based on the proposed 2020 City of Brandon budget every approximately $475,000 in new spending in a single year without offsetting revenue can be seen as having an approximate average municipal property tax impact of 1% in that year. That does not account for any potential grants or other funding sources that may be available to support accessibility initiatives at public facilities or the possibility of proposed upgrades potentially being carried out and/or funded over multiple years.
The 2019-released City of Brandon Recreation and Community Facilities Master Plan identifies Sportsplex challenges relating to accessibility, lack of family dressing/change rooms and lack of a Universal Access bathroom.
The full Sportsplex petition along with more details on Inclusion Westman’s goal of reducing or removing barriers in City-managed spaces can be reviewed at https://www.change.org/p/city-of-brandon-accessibility-at-the-sportsplex-lets-work-together-and-make-progress-happen