Over the past month, you may have noticed some construction behind the Comox Valley Child Development Association building on 3rd Street. 

That’s because Phase 1 of the Accessibility Project is coming to fruition. 

When all phases are complete, the project will see improvements made to the accessibility of the centre’s main parking lot and accessible entryways.

The CVCDA says it’s “continually striving to provide physical locations for their services that are not only welcoming but inclusive to all who utilize them.”

Both the upper and lower ramps were deteriorating with age and were considered dangerously steep for those using them in their wheelchairs. 

Not only were they unsafe but the ramps in some instances would damage the wheelchairs, according to the association.

So far, phase one of construction has seen their lower accessible ramp excavated to make room for the new and improved upgrade.

The new ramps will be at a much more friendly slope for all who use them. Additionally, they will be wider and provide more space at the entry ways for maneuvering in and out.

The project fund came together through a number of supporters including fundraising from the 45th CVCDA Children’s Telethon,

Many local businesses and the Rotary clubs are also combined forces to support this project. 

Angela Zumbo of the Comox Valley Rotary Club is spearheading the Rotary’s collaboration in their support with both funds and people power.

“I’m so happy our Comox Valley, Comox and Courtenay clubs are joining forces to improve accessibility at CVCDA. We were inspired to take on this Rotary project because it aligns perfectly with our goals to help vulnerable kids and families, and it also gives us the opportunity to really roll up our sleeves to make a difference for the Valley,” Zumbo said.

“The current wheelchair ramp is pretty treacherous – it’s a serious challenge for folks today. I’m excited for the new design to get built to see the positive impact in our community and support the CVCDA.”

Additionally, funding has come through a variety of grants. 

One came from the Rick Hansen Foundation BC Accessibility Grants program supported by the province through the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation. 

This program provides opportunity for organizations that have been rated through the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification program to apply for funding of up to $20,000 to complete an accessibility infrastructure improvement project.

“We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Rick Hansen Foundation and the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation,” said CVCDA executive director, Cindy Xavier.

The remainder of the grant money was a $24,500 grant received through Community Living BC.

Lacasse Construction led by owner, Cale Lacasse are once again supporting the CVCDA through all phases of construction on this project as they have done on many past building projects at the CVCDA. 

Lacasse has also brought with them a team of supporting contractors to the job including Edgett Excavating, Valley Creative Concrete, Dalron Home Improvements and Cumberland Ready Mix.

The CVCDA had once again hired professional Architect, Phillipa Atwood to create the exterior building and ramp designs to complement her existing Comox Valley Autism Centre design, located adjacent the courtyard.

Following Phase 1, to be completed this month, the CVCDA will continue with the remaining phases of the project including the upper ramp and parking lot being completed by the end of summer.

You can follow the Accessibility Project through the various phases here.

The CVCDA is a non-profit organization locally supporting children with special needs and their families for 45 years. 

In 2021, over 1,000 Comox Valley children and their families used services at the CVCDA.