CONTRIBUTION · 15th February 2010
I have traversed Canada from coast to coast and consider this area amongst the most beautiful in Canada. I love the friendly folk in Terrace and the spectacular views but I have a significant social concern. Terrace has multiple barriers to persons with disabilities, and such barriers convert the disabilities to handicaps. Great strides have been made in a number of areas but we still have a ways to go.
Last winter, I visited a downtown dental office. Although there was a disability spot conveniently near the rear door, the parking lot was so icy as to make it impossible to safely navigate the distance from my car to the building entrance, thereby forcing me to park on the street at the front of the building, where there are no designated spots. Luckily, there was a parking space near the door and the sidewalk was clear of ice.
Upon my arrival at the front door, I discovered there was no handicapped entry button. The door was too heavy for me to open without pain, and I had to knock on the window and gesticulate wildly until the receptionist inside finally understood my need and opened the door.
Although there were offices on the main floor, the second floor offices would be inaccessible to many because there was no elevator and the stairs were designed in such a way as to preclude the installation of a chairlift. A check of the bathrooms revealed them to be small, with limited turnarounds, and with standard faucets and doorknobs, as opposed to the levered kind which are far more user- friendly.
Sadly, when I brought these deficiencies to the attention of the owner of the building, his response was that I should invest the money in a cell phone and call when I was at the front doo. He saw no need to spend the money for any modifications and concluded, in response to my protests, by saying that if I had accessibility issues then it was my problem, not his!
Although I trust that this owner’s response is not representative of our town, the building itself was not unique. A search for a more accessible dental building netted no results. The newer medical building on Park is accessible, but houses no dentists. Some local dentists have ground-floor offices, but all that I visited posed barriers.
A visit to our municipal hall elicited the information that although there are bylaws governing the construction of newer medical buildings, there is nothing to force the owners of older buildings to make them accessible, unless they make major structural modifications
There is no such thing as a “normal disabled person” just as there is no such thing as a normal “able” person. Because of the vast array of disabilities one can have, it is difficult to make for a barrier-free environment. That is why it is so important to have consumer input.
Considering that Terrace has an aging population, I think that it is probable that heavy doors pose a barrier for many of our residents, and the installation of access buttons is helpful, as it also preserves people’s dignity.
I understand that some governmental grants are available for modifications to make both homes and public buildings accessible, though not everyone may qualify. Perhaps another inducement is the likelihood that business will improve if your business is barrier-free.
All arguments aside, whether there are grants or other financial incentives, sometimes money should be spent because it is, quite simply, the right thing to do, for the good of society.
Its about time.
Comment by Shawna on 16th February 2010
I agree with Carrie and I commend you for making a point of this issue. It is so true. Thanks for bring this up there are so many people who are afraid to say anything or think they will not be heard.Good for you Carrie!
You are Right
Comment by Dr. Bruce Bidgood on 16th February 2010
You make very good points Carrie. A City cannot claim to be hospitable if it is not accessible. We will do everything possible to promote accessibility both within our municipal buildings, new home construction and in business.