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Winnipeg Access Advisory Committee


Access Awards 2007

Access Awards Logo


Claude de Forest & Yoshiko de Forest

Community Leadership in Universal Design

Claude de Forest & Yoshiko de Forest


The AAC presented Claude de Forest with the Winnipeg Accessibility Award 2007 for community leadership in Universal Design.

“We have to make sure people in the city are well taken care of in the buildings we design for them so it’s easy to get around,” says Claude. “We have some friends who have physical disabilities so I learned from them how difficult it is.”

Claude is a now-retired professor of architecture who established the Institute of Barrier Free Design at the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba. One assignment he gave his students was to navigate the campus as a person with sight, hearing or mobility challenges. “As a result, our faculty was singled out as one of the top institutions in North America,” he says.

Claude’s legacy is incorporating all the elements of true architecture creating to help people function and live with dignity.

“Claude opened up the world of design that addresses all senses – touch, smell, hearing and visual – things you won’t get in a typical design studio. He helped us understand these elements of the built environment and how they may impact people,” says Ric Carreon, a Landscape Architect and AAC member who studied with Claude. “Claude put the stigma away from barrier free design and made it more universal.”


Haese Residential Ramp

Simaril Residence

Simaril Inc


An Accessibility Award was presented to the Simaril Residence in 2007. The story and the people involved in the renovations truly capture what universal design is all about: benefiting all citizens.

Nicki and Karen are two young women who were ready to live on their own. With support and community involvement, this milestone was made possible.

Simaril Inc is an organization providing support to adults with developmental disabilities. For twenty years, Simaril has offered residential and independent living support.

Simaril purchased a home for Nicki and Karen. Structural issues meant major renovations were needed before they could move in. The project was a collaborative, community effort involving organizations, individuals and businesses. Instructors and students from the Manitoba Residential Construction Training Institute helped fix the foundation. Businesses like Battlefield Rentals, Vipond, Kitchen Craft, Almar Distributors and Super- Lite donated labour and/or supplies.

The insulation in the attic was upgraded. A new vapour barrier and windows were installed. Details like wider hallways, an open floor plan, revamped entrances and larger windows were implemented to enhance accessibility.

Renovations took two years. Since their move in November 2006, both women are thriving. Karen is a social person who has embraced chances to engage with new people.

Nicki’s independence has empowered her to take life in stride. “It’s given Nicki and Karen more independence and the ability to get out and meet new people. They can have their family or friends over to visit,” says Daryn Turcotte, Executive Director of Simaril Inc.

A month before accepting the Accessibility Award, Architect Stan Hutton had a stroke that opened his eyes. “We take so many things for granted. We don’t know for sure what tomorrow brings,” says Stan Hutton. “Municipalities and provinces should be proactive in making sure all homes meet certain basic standards of livability. That would pay dividends for the population.”

The 2007 Accessibility Awards once again recognized our community’s achievements in accessibility and raised awareness about how universal design positively impacts lives.


Committee Mandate

  • Advise the Mayor and Council on present and future status of the City of Winnipeg's information, properties, and services accessible for persons with disabilities to the benefit of all citizens.
  • Review and monitor all accessibility as they pertain to the City of Winnipeg's properties.
  • Advise and make recommendations to City Council regarding unresolved accessibility issues related to City properties.
  • Communicate with the citizens of Winnipeg about their concerns as they relate to public access of City properties.
  • Inform all citizens of initiatives of the City as well as accomplishments and achievements with respect to access and universal design.
  • Educate all City departments about access issues as they relate to employment and public access.
  • Identify projects which encourage enthusiasm and involvement of the community, government and business in making Winnipeg universally accessible.