Mossom Creek hatchery first in the country to receive accessibility certification

Hatchery co-founder Ruth Foster and Burrard Inlet Marine Enhancement Society president Kevin Ryan watch over feeding time. file photo Jeremy Shepherd

This story has been corrected to include a more accurate description of the education centre.

A Port Moody non-profit is angling to be the first building in the community and the first fish hatchery in Canada to receive a special designation for accessibility.

Burrard Inlet Marine Enhancement Society’s (BIMES) Mossom Creek Fish Hatchery is close to officially receiving the highest certification from the Rick Hansen Foundation in recognition of being an accessible location. A foundation spokesperson confirmed to the Dispatch that the hatchery has been assessed as a “gold” location and its certification will be signed off shortly.

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The hatchery is the first building in Port Moody to receive the Accessibility Certified Gold designation from the Rick Hansen Foundation and the first fish hatchery in the country.

Two hatchery representatives gave a presentation to Port Moody council early last week to ask for funds to help complete the improvements necessary to receive the certification.

Volunteer Patrick Dennett told council they are close to completing work thanks to around $19,000 that has been raised so far, as well as $10,000 of in-kind donation, but that there is a shortfall of about $2,000. He asked council to designate the remaining $1,453 in the community grant program for the project.

“The journey has been very educational and rewarding for me and others who have helped,” he said.

The bulk of the planned improvements for accessibility at the hatchery were completed in June, but they are waiting on back-ordered parts to complete one of the projects.

The hatchery won Port Moody’s Peter Hulbert Accessibility Award in 2017, but this work will allow more people to visit the hatchery, said volunteer Tracy Green.

“These are significant improvements that really do widen the people that can come to the hatchery and to feel capable and included at the hatchery like it was there for them, which it should be,” she said. “It’s there for everybody.”

Improvements include wayfinding signage, ramps to viewing platforms, a listening device for the education centre, a strobe lighting alarm system and visual identification of walkways and stairs.

Council was unanimously supportive of the project.

“It’s really difficult to be the first group to do something,” said Coun. Amy Lubik. “But then you have the blueprint for everybody that goes behind you and that’s a real gift to the community.”

The hatchery has been a fixture in the community for decades. In 2013, it was razed during a fire. In his application to appear as a delegation before council, Dennett wrote that at the time of rebuilding, many accessibility elements were included, but more can be done. He said that accessibility and inclusiveness goes beyond wheelchair access. Those with visual, hearing and physical challenges also need to be considered.

Coun. Diana Dilworth praised the group for pursuing accessibility beyond physical mobility and asked how the group had gotten involved with the Rick Hansen Foundation, as well as requesting clarification from city staff that council could earmark the funds for the group without them submitting an application.

Coun. Steve Milani also offered support to their efforts.

“Fourteen-hundred dollars is a small price to pay to be part of this endeavour,” he said.

Coun. Zoe Royer echoed council’s support of the project and even offered to fund the group’s budget shortfall herself.

“This will be a tremendous source of pride for our whole community and I can’t imagine how difficult it may have been in the past if you weren’t accessible to everyone,” she said.

Coun. Meghan Lahti lamented the city didn’t have more funds to give the group, but said “every little bit counts.”

The motion to give the group $1,453 from the community grant program was passed unanimously.

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