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This article was published 4/10/2011 (3487 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
This week a rejuvenated North End hub and gathering place is getting a prestigious award from the city.
Representatives of Barber House will be at city hall on Oct. 6 to pick up a 2011 Winnipeg Accessibility Award. Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz is expected to be on hand, along with members of the city’s access advisory committee, including committee coordinator Chris Sobkowicz.
Rick Caslake, volunteer co-ordinator at Barber House, says the recognition is a cherry on the top of an already exciting year for the building.
"The mandate for Barber House has always been one to include everyone — not just the able-bodied," Caslake said.
"This just gives us that extra bit of welcome."
Barber House, one of the oldest standalone dwellings in Winnipeg, celebrated its grand re-opening in early August after being gutted by fire in 2010.
SISTARS, or Sisters Initiating Steps Towards a Renewed Society, began working to restore it after assuming ownership of the property from the city last summer. The facility is now home to both the North Point Douglas Seniors Association and Eagle Wing Early Education Centre.
Caslake said the award raises both the awareness of the importance of accessibility and universal design practices in Winnipeg as well as the profile of the city’s access advisory committee. The city committee examines and investigates information on access issues for people with disabilities.
Caslake said stakeholders and architects left no stone unturned when looking the create the most accessible building possible.
"Everything from no stairs in the facility, to lever-style handles on all the doors, to the low heights of the phones and fire alarms, everything has been taken into consideration," he said.
Project architect Wins Bridgman said SISTARS and other players wanted to keep as much of the existing building intact, while sticking to the best accessibility practices during redesign and construction.
"Those involved in planning this are an audacious group of people. They saw Barber House’s importance to the community and wanted to keep its origins," he said.
"The community wanted to show Barber House’s scars to help people understand its strength," Bridgman said.
Barber House is located at 99 Euclid Ave. in Point Douglas. It was constructed by E.L. Barber in 1862.
After undergoing a major renovation in the early 1990s, a fire undid most of the work in 1993, causing significant damage to the interior of the house. Community efforts to restore the home gained momentum last year after area residents complained it had become a hangout and makeshift shelter for the homeless.
Previous winners of Winnipeg Accessibility Awards include The Inn at The Forks, Seven Oaks Hospital’s Wellness Institute, the U of W’s McFeetors Hall and the Esplanade Riel. For more information,