Luxury home for sale in Alberta described as ‘gold standard’ for accessibility

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A unique house for sale in St. Albert, Alta., has caught the attention of people in the disability community.

The luxury bungalow was renovated a few years ago for a man with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). As his mobility deteriorated, the business owner spared no expense to make his home as accessible as possible.

The house includes a wheelchair lift in the garage, an elevator, track for a bedroom lift, a dumbwaiter in the kitchen and an automated dog door.

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Disability advocate and consultant Brad Bartko recently toured the house to help the realtor understand all its assets. He says when he entered, he teared up.

“(The house) takes (obstacles) away and you can just be you,” Bartko told Global News.

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“You can finally feel human… you can let your abilities shine through your disabilities.”

Bartko has cerebral palsy, and uses a wheelchair full-time. He describes the home as the “gold standard” for accessibility.

Among his favourite features is a roll-in shower in the master ensuite, complete with a full-body blow-dryer.


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He also loves the backyard with wheelchair-friendly turf, accessible through the walkout/rollout basement.

“I’m able to be myself and I can do things myself. I don’t need to ask for help,” said Bartko.

“I’ve been around in a wheelchair for 28 years. This (house) is the first of its kind I’ve ever seen, and… that needs to change.”

Kevin Benson, president of Heredity Homes, agrees. His company renovated the house for his friend, Adam Rombough, before he died in 2018.

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“(Rombough) could continue on with his life, somewhat of a normal life, in the end,” Benson said.

Benson says the experience taught him a lot about barrier-free design. He feels some features should be standard in provincial building codes.

“To make a hallway a little bit wider or make doorways a little bit wider, it’s not a huge expense, not at all.”

He now recommends accessible features to clients and says of the last 10 houses the company has built, eight had elevators. He calls them “forever homes,” where people can age in place.

“You can live there a lot longer and stay there and have home care,” said Benson.

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The St. Albert home is priced at nearly $700,000 — out of reach for many.

According to Statistics Canada, 22 per cent of Canadians over the age of 15 have disabilities. Of those, the people with more severe disabilities (28 per cent) are more likely to be living in poverty.


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A recent report from Alberta group Radical Inclusion calls for provincial and municipal governments to consult with people with disabilities when it comes to accessible and affordable housing. The group also wants better subsidy programs for renovations.

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Bartko and his wife live in a condominium. He hopes the St. Albert property can inspire more home-builders to consider accessibility.

“It’s small stuff to a lot of people, but big stuff to us.”




© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.





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