Which country do you think has the most elevators? Did you know that it is Spain, with 19.8 elevators per 1,000 population? But with 65% of Spanish citizens living in apartment buildings it makes sense that there are so many elevators. Compare that with the United States that have 2.8 elevators per thousand population, or China with 2.2 per thousand.
As reported in the New York Times by Keith Bradsher China now wants to change all of that, and hopes to retrofit as many as three million older walkup buildings with elevators, projecting the cost at roughly $100,000 USD per installation.
Why? As China’s older population is aging, they have also acquired wealth, and are now demanding being better served by their government.
During the Mao regime in the 1960’s families were urged to have many children who are now coming to be 60 years of age. A subsequent “one child” policy in the 1970’s means that these seniors do not have children and grandchildren ot assist them as they age.
The city of Guangzhou has taken advantage of a federal government grant of $93,000 per elevator installation and has already retrofitted 6,000 older buildings. That city required two-thirds of strata owners to agree to the project before installation.
This “elevator policy” is seen as a national employment incubator to provide jobs for millions of unemployed migrant workers. But there is a wrinkle~elevators come from a very small group of global manufacturers and are dominated by names familiar to North Americans. Otis Elevator, Schindler, and Kone are prominent. So while those firms will get the contract to install elevators, the job of the building retrofit for the elevator will be done by a small group of specialized Chinese contractors.
Back to British Columbia which also has a lot of three storey walk up apartments in towns and cities that do not have elevators. What happens when a resident has a mobility issue and requires an elevator or a stair assist?
Katie De Rosa in the Times Colonist has just written about the case of a Nanaimo senior, Ada Jacobsen that asked her condominum strata to accommodate her need for a wheelchair ramp for mobility. The strata refused, even though three of the residents in the 32 units had a mobility disability. The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruled in the senior resident’s favour, with an award for loss of dignity and an order for the strata to prepare drawings for an interior or exterior elevator for the building.
In the judgement the Tribunal stated “I find that the Strata’s property is not accessible to Ms. Jacobsen because of her disability. While the Strata did make some changes and took some steps, albeit after an unreasonable period of delay, it did not take all reasonable and practical steps to remove the disability‐related barriers. As a result, the Strata has not satisfied its obligation to accommodate Ms. Jacobsen’s disability.”
Images: AtlanticMonthly,Indiamart, MGAelevator