Accessibility at ST. Paul's, Marmora

Special thanks to:

One of the first things I noticed when I arrived as priest - in - charge of the parish was the number of steps and stairs on both premises, particularly St. Paul’s. To enter St. Paul’s Church required taking five steps from the public sidewalk. To enter our hall you needed to navigate 22 steps or if you used the rear access ramp a mere 12. Few, however, use that entrance because while the ramp gets you into the upstairs part of the hall you still have to navigate a distance of 95 feet from the public sidewalk to the ramp, a rough space covered with a mix of grass and gravel.

Where does this narrative about accessibility at St. Paul’s, Marmora begin? Perhaps it begins on Sunday, September 3, 2017 when, at a special Vestry meeting, the decision was made to make our facilities accessible. We would accomplish this by removing the walls in the upper hall to create a new facility upstairs. This decision, however, was the result of an event that occurred previously in May.

On the first weekend of May our hall, located in the basement, flooded. This, in a sense, provided the incentive we needed to “move to higher ground”. The combination of the flood and some good advice from a friend who was a builder and a former parishoner from nearby Stirling, helped us to consider imagining another option. The builder, Bill Bosiak, invited us to think about removing the walls (non load bearing) upstairs to create a new and larger space. By doing so we would, essentially, create a similar footprint to the space in the downstairs hall. The walls we were to remove enclosed the the office of the rector, a closet for choir gowns and provided space for a number of filing cabinets in our counting room.

I think, however, our decision in September began much earlier, even before the flood in May. In March, I received a telephone call from a representative of the Mennonite Church of Canada who spoke about a 600 km. walk planned from Kitchener/ Waterloo along number seven highway to Ottawa. This was in support of Bill C- 262, an attempt to ensure that the laws of Canada were in harmony with the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The caller asked if we might provide overnight accommodation for about 25 people in our hall, feed them a supper and listen to their presentation. I brought this request to the attention of the wardens and we decided to say, yes. In the last week of April we welcomed those pilgrims and invited them to enjoy the hospitality of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Marmora. Our congregation asked St. Andrew’s United Church if they might provide the walkers with breakfast the following morning. We then approached the folks at the Community Centre to ask if they would permit the pilgrims to use the showers in their facility. We invited Archdeacon Wayne Varley to attend the gathering and supper representing the Diocese.

I believe that when we moved away from the comfortable concern of self and fixed our attention, instead, on the need of those walkers, pilgrims, neighbours/strangers and listened to their stories, our hearts were warmed and our “attitude to others was adjusted”. St. Paul’s willingness to provide accommodation, food, friendship and a listening ear initiated a process that, in time, moved us to consider the possibility of becoming an accessible space.

St. Paul’s Vision for the Hall
1. To make both hall and church accessible.
2. To construct an accessible washroom and a standard washroom.
3. To build a new, spacious kitchen.
4. To create a gathering space for our congregation including room for tables and chairs to seat 50.
5. That this renovated facility be a space not only to meet our congregational needs but that it be a space to host community events. Thus we wanted our new facility to meet both accessibility codes and health regulations.

Special thank you to all of our sponsors and the community for your generous support.

The Foster Hewitt Foundation
The Anglican Foundation of Canada
The Diocese of Ontario Foundation