Successful Northern Initiative Attracts Delegates to Universal Design Conference

Prince George, BC ? Measuring Up The North (MUTN), a project that facilitates the development of livable, disability-friendly, age-friendly, universally designed, inclusive communities for all residents and visitors in Northern British Columbia, will host a conference ?Creating Universally Designed Healthy Sustainable Communities? to be held at the Civic Centre in Prince George from April 6-8, 2009.

Over 250 delegates from across British Columbia as well as other parts of Canada and USA will attend. Delegates will include elected officials, planners, builders, developers, policy makers, code officials, designers, architects, health professionals, researchers, disability and senior?s advocates and others. The anticipated results are more livable communities that help build local economies and enhance social development. The conference will include presentations, panels, interactive sessions, poster presentations, a trade show, a visitable housing tour, and a full day of intensive workshops on April 8th. Several elected officials will attend the welcoming reception on April 6th.

?This conference will present current trends in universal design and inclusion. As we face an increasing aging population globally, we need to prepare our buildings, homes and communities to be better designed for all. This conference will bring together concepts of universal design and inclusion with health and sustainability for the first time. It will build knowledge and capacity for BC communities and businesses to prepare for future development.? says Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom, MUTN Steering Committee Chair, who also sits on the BC Minister?s Council on Employment for Persons with Disabilities.

Several local, provincial, national and international speakers will present on best practice strategies for public buildings and spaces, community planning as well as on visitable housing. Honourary International Speakers including Eleanor Smith, of Concrete Change, Atlanta Georgia, founder of Visitable Housing in North America and Jake Pauls of Jake Pauls Consulting Services in Building Use and Safety, Springfield, Maryland a leading expert on stairway design falls and egress.

?This conference will highlight our second year of the project and will bring together Project Liaisons and delegates from over 30 Northern BC communities to discuss their progress and plans for creating more livable communities for all. The delegates will describe successes that have already been achieved and will interact with Southern BC communities.? says internationally known universal design and inclusion expert Laurie Ringaert, who serves as the Project Director.

We are pleased to have the support of the Canadian Home Builders of the North, the BC Northern Real Estate Board, and the City of Prince George for the conference. We are also thrilled to offer learning units for the member of the Planning Institute of BC: PIBC Members can earn CPD Learning Units by participating in this event.

A media teleconference with the key conference speakers will take place March 24, 2009 at 10:00am. For more information on the conference or the project see: www.measureupthenorth.com.

About Measuring Up The North (MUTN)

MUTN assists nearly 40 communities to evaluate how accessible and inclusive they are and works with them to set goals and move towards improvements. The MUTN initiative is a partnership between the North Central Municipal Association (NCMA) and the BC Paraplegic Association (BCPA), with supporting partners 2010 Legacies Now, BC Healthy Communities, Northern Health: Healthy Community Development and Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport/ the Age-Friendly Communities Initiative,. The project is funded by 2010 Legacies Now, the Vancouver Foundation, the BC Real Estate Foundation, United Way Prince George, the Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund Society, and the NCMA Members themselves.

MUTN also received financial assistance for the conference from Affordability and Choice Today (ACT), Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (funder), the Canadian Home Builders? Association, and the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association.