It’s all about the access

Sons of Kent’s Doug Hunter, left, accepts the Accessible Business of the Year Award from the Chatham-Kent Accessibility Advisory Committee, presented by CKAAC chair Mike Gerard, centre, and Mayor Darrin Canniff on Feb. 19. Held at the Sons of Kent Brewery, the awards also honoured Juanita Luxton and Mac’s Convenience Store for their commitment to accessibility.

A pair of local businesses received high praise from the Chatham-Kent Accessibility Advisory Committee recently.

As part of the 2019 Accessibility Awards, Sons of Kent Brewing Company and the Mac’s Convenience Store on the corner of Sandys Street and McNaughton Avenue West were honoured.

Sons of Kent earned the Dr. Veronica Vaughan Accessible Business of the Year Award, while Mac’s earned the Sheila Lindsey-Powers Accessibility Advocate Award.

Mike Girard, chair of the C-K Accessibility Advisory Committee, said the efforts by these businesses are appreciated.

“All have worked very hard to advocate for accessibility. We recognize and reward very important people and businesses in our community,” he said.

Doug Hunter, one of the partners behind Sons of Kent, said they made a conscious effort in their design of their operation to think about minimizing accessibility issues.

“We wanted to make sure everyone can get in and out of here. We have high- and low-level tables to provide accessibility as well,” he said.

Rick LaMarsh, former chair of the advisory committee, said Naveed Pasha, owner of the Mac’s store, has gone to great effort to improve accessibility to the store by putting in an automatic door and designed access to the interior with everyone in mind.

“It’s the only automatic door I’ve found on a convenience store in Chatham. As well, some doors are too narrow for wheelchair access and others have steps,” he said. “When I encounter a business like this, I feel more comfortable and I’m willing to spend more money.”

Mac’s Convenience Store manager Naveed Pasha, centre, accepts the Accessibility Advocate Award from the Chatham-Kent Accessibility Advisory Committee, presented by Rick LaMarsh, right, and Mayor Darrin Canniff on Feb. 19.

LaMarsh said he’s not alone, as others with ability issues make use of the Mac’s due to its accessibility efforts.

Gerard said Pasha didn’t have to do the renovations to improve accessibility, but did so anyway.

“Mac’s is now the go-to place for people with accessibility issues,” he said, adding it’s paying off. “They’ve noticed a trend from clientele as business has increased as a result.”

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff said efforts by businesses such as Mac’s and Sons of Kent are appreciated.

“I would love to see every business completely accessible,” he said. “Thanks for doing what you’re doing.”

Juanita Luxton also received an award from the C-K Accessibility Advisory Committee, the Sid Ebare Perseverance Award.

Ann McKenzie of the Children’s Treatment Centre presented the award. She said Luxton is an outstanding member of the community who is an advocate and volunteer.

Juanita Luxton, centre, accepts the Perseverance Award from the Chatham-Kent Accessibility Advisory Committee, presented by Ann McKenzie and Mayor Darrin Canniff on Feb. 19.

“Juanita moved here in part to seek out treatment at the Children’s Treatment Centre,” she said. “She was an Easter Seals ambassador as a child and volunteered at the treatment centre. She’s a great role model for our youth who maintains her independence by living on her own.

Luxton has volunteered for the Man in Motion tour and Outreach for Hunger food bank.

“She does not miss a chance to help,” McKenzie said. “The Children’s Treatment Centre is incredibly grateful for her well over 30 years of support.”


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