A disabilities advocate is concerned Invercargill City Council’s (ICC) inner-city master plan may be missing an opportunity to address important issues with its mobility parking spaces and pathways.
Invercargill resident Tracy Peters became a permanent wheelchair user two years ago, leading her to champion for a better “wheelchair friendly” city.
However, she said she was disappointed the council’s inner-city proposal did not include details about the mobility issues she had pointed out to council staff on a tour of the city last year.
A city centre governance group had overseen the development of a city centre master plan to bring pride, vibrancy and people back to Invercargill’s inner-city.
However, Mrs Peters said the city did not have good transitions from the kerbs and footpath to the roads and “vice-versa”.
“It is a fine detail which is really important for people with disabilities.
“That might be the only opportunity we get to make it right.”
She could not find much information about the creation of shelters in the area which would allow pedestrians to walk in the city centre more comfortably.
“It might be because they did not have space to put all the information there,” she said.
One of her main concerns was mobility parking spaces in the city.
She believed the spaces were not “fit for purpose” and should be at least 7m long, so wheelchair users could manoeuvre in and out of their vehicles safely.
The new parking system which would update 750 coin-operated parking meters to a pay-by-plate approach was also a point to be clarified, she said.
When she was in Dunedin last year, she was not able to access a machine to pay for her parking as it was too high.
“Will this machine be accessible for people with disabilities?
“Will the screen be readable if you are seated in a wheelchair?
“I could not find any detail or answers to those questions in the plan.”
Mrs Peters said the plan was a great start, but it would be important to have another consultation.
“This is a massive project and what I, and others, would like to see is a well-thought approach to have a better city for everyone.
“This is the perfect opportunity to do that.”
An ICC spokeswoman said the The Isthmus Group, which was engaged in the master planning project, were leaders in accessible urban design.
Some of Mrs Peters concerns would be addressed as part of a parking strategy draft which would be presented at the next council meeting, she said.
“The city council is very aware of the need for good quality parking systems for people who require wheelchair access and it is part of the new plan.”
She said the master plan was a conceptual layout to guide future growth and development.
“As such they don’t always include details such as paving and shelters.
“These details will be explored during the streetscape detail design phase which will begin shortly. ”
Council staff had already spoke to several groups from the disability sector during the drafting of the master plan and would be catching up with them again as it move towards detail design, including Mrs Peters, she said.
ICC had received approximately 30 emails and social media comments regarding the master plan to date.