Fully Accessible Recreation Facility Envisioned in Ottawa Senators Proposal for LeBreton Flats

For Immediate Release
January 26, 2016

OTTAWA – The vision for the second of its kind in Canada — the Abilities Centre Ottawa (ACO) — has just moved closer to being realized with a partnership announced today with the Ottawa Senators in their Illumination LeBreton proposal to redevelop LeBreton Flats.

The partnership between the Ottawa Senators and the Abilities Centre Ottawa is cited in the Illumination LeBreton proposal as a major component of the plan. The facility, intended to be part of the Sensplex at Lebreton Flats, will be a 250,000 square foot fully integrated, fully accessible, inclusive, multi-purpose recreation and community facility for people of all ages, able bodied and disabled.

“We are excited about this partnership with the Ottawa Senators and so grateful for their commitment to accessible programs for people with and without disabilities,” said Emily Glossop, Chair of the ACO Board of Directors. “Like the first and now proven Abilities Centre in Whitby, the ACO will follow their successful template which is now acknowledged as an international centre of excellence for people of all ages, and all abilities.”

This facility, modeled after the new Abilities Centre in Whitby, would be the second one to be built in Canada. The programming is focused on four areas: recreation and sport; arts, drama, music and dance; life skills and activity of daily living; and research and innovation.

“The Ottawa Senators organization believes strongly that investing in programs and initiatives that promote both physical and mental wellness in our community, especially in children, should be a priority,” said Eugene Melnyk, owner of the Ottawa Senators. “Our organization is committed to ensuring that all people — the young and the elderly, the able-bodied and the disabled — be given the opportunity to be active, engaged and integrated together. There is a serious lack of accessible recreational space in Ottawa, and throughout Canada which this partnership hopes to address.”

The ACO is building relationships with potential partners, in particular the Abilities Centre in Whitby, along with local partners such as Carleton University’s READ (Research, Education, Accessibility and Design) Initiative and numerous national sport organizations including the Canadian Paralympic Committee and others. The ACO will also work with Ottawa’s health care providers to provide rehabilitation, fitness and training programs.

“We have our fingers crossed over here at Carleton University. The ACO promises to be important as a complement to our efforts at Carleton University to become the most accessible university in Canada. We support the ACO as a further commitment to full inclusion and accessibility in the nation’s capital,” said Dean Mellway, Acting Director, of the READ Initiative.

Given the aging of our population, one in seven residents in the National Capital Region currently lives with a disability, a number that is growing exponentially. When complete, the combined ACO and Sensplex will be the largest sports and recreation centre in the National Capital Region.

The new ACO will create safe, inclusive, accessible environments, programs and services for persons with disabilities, and ultimately, will enhance the social fabric of the National Capital Region and Canadian society as a whole. The development will also create a Centre of Excellence for persons with disabilities as a leading knowledge hub with national and international experts.

In addition, the ACO will serve as a fully accessible shelter for the residents of Ottawa-Gatineau in the event of a large scale disaster or emergency, currently not available anywhere in the National Capital Region. With trained staff to help those with disabilities, the ACO represents a strong solution in the event of an emergency as was the case recently following a fire in a Whitby nursing home, and the elderly residents all moved to the Abilities Centre for shelter and care.

The ACO Board of Directors will be working diligently to raise the funds required to build the new facility. The furniture and fittings will include adapted sports equipment (i.e. basketball wheel chairs, hand ergometers, racing chairs, and sledges), and programmable weight-lifting systems that read a chip to ensure customized adaptation for each client.

The ACO represents an opportunity to fundamentally change the social fabric of our society toward the full inclusion and participation of all persons. “The ACO will be an extraordinary facility in Ottawa’s city centre,” said Glossop. “Imagine the possibilities!”


For more information, please contact Todd Nicholson, Board Member, Abilities Centre Ottawa, at 613-325-9671 or by email at abilitiescentreottawa@gmail.com

Visit the Abilities Centre Ottawa website: www.abilitiescentreottawa.org
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