By Melissa Sheil
A MULTI-MILLION dollar Kalamunda building that was only built seven months ago has been slammed by associates of the disabled community for its lack of usability.
The Kalamunda Community Centre, which is located in Jorgensen Park, is listed as wheelchair friendly, though disabled people who regularly use the building are critical of this title.
One woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she visits the centre multiple times a week and was horrified at seeing many of her frail or wheelchair-bound friends unable to get through the front door or enter the disabled toilet.
“I’m able bodied but I’d say a majority of the regular users of the centre aren’t,” she said.
“The doors are very heavy and open outwards – many disabled people don’t have the strength to pull it and even if they could, it would collide with the wheelchair or walking frame.
“They only just installed a ramp for the parking and I’m at the end of my tether honestly, that a key demographic of the community is unable to independently access a building they use so frequently.
“I believe it’s a violation of the Disability Act that says all public buildings need to accommodate for disabled people.
“Very disappointing that the disabled and elderly are only considered as an afterthought.”
The centre was built at the cost of $6.6 million and opened in February this year.
The woman said she attended the building prior to its official opening and recognised the issues immediately, pointing them out to City staff present.
“I knew there was going to be a problem straight away,” she said.
“The staff were shocked because they hadn’t noticed the doors and were sympathetic but when we said it had to be fixed before opening, they didn’t really have any solutions.
“Someone suggested putting a bell on the door for those unable to get in to ring when they want to enter, but I flat out said no.
“We will not have our elderly and disabled sitting outside waiting to be let in like dogs.”
A City of Kalamunda spokeswoman said they have been contacted and met with a group to discuss the issue.
“We have received feedback regarding the doors and also ramp access,” she said.
“We’ve added a ramp, taken community feedback on board and are developing a series of improvements beyond contemporary standards that can be implemented subject to funding being available.”
The City maintains the building is in compliance with regulations and received independent certification, but notes automatic doors do make it easier for disabled people.
“Even if the doors met the set accessibility standards, all that shows is that the standards aren’t up to scratch,” the woman complainant said.
“Even if it isn’t technically in breach, practically it is.”