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Eyes wide shut

Dear Mayor Norton,

I usually don't stray from Nova Scotia, where there is an almost infinite supply of stories about the indignities visited upon people with disabilities.  St. John's  astoundingly wrongheaded, regressive and just plain stupid decision to end free bus passes for blind passengers needs to be identified for what it is.

  • Larceny.  You compel blind residents to pay taxes to build and maintain the roads they cannot use.  
  • Oppression.  You deny blind residents the means to get a job, to escape poverty, to become useful citizens.
  • Atavism.  This is 2014, a year in the 21st century.  This is a policy from a Dickens novel.  
  • Hypocrisy.  It is ludicrous to think his tiny concession discriminates against anyone.  You have a lot of nerve to cite the Charter as you persecute blind people.

You'll probably have to resign when the Human Rights decision goes against you. Time to reconsider that legacy thing.  Maybe throw Councillor Reardon under the bus.

Ramps, continued

South Shore reporter Beverly Ware, staff writer for the Chronicle Herald, wrote an article about this building in Lunenburg.

Which prompted me to write:

As a former Lunenburg homeowner and proud wheelchair user, I fear your article , Ramp dispute may cost volunteers will cause the real cost of this dispute to come to rest at the wheels of disabled Nova Scotians, who get nary a mention from you. A couple of things come to mind:
  • In Milton Mass, where he lives, Mr. Scott Sherman
    Scott R. Sherman II
    would be required to meet even more stringent standards for his ramp.  The Americans with Disabilities Act would also require him to have an entirely accessible interior, including a lowered counter for transactions, level thresholds, a power door and wide aisles.  If he didn't do these things, he'd get a visit from the U.S. Justice Department.  I get the idea from his elaborate presence on LinkedIn that he cannot be unfamiliar with these requirements.  Perhaps Mr. Sherman is under the impression that us bumpkins in Nova Scotia  shouldn't require the same facilities as the good folks back home.
  • It doesn't take long to uncover another side of Mr. Sherman.  Lunenburgers will remember his efforts to bring lap dancing into the Post Office (and not just to sell stamps).  I leave it to you to decide if smoke indicates fire.  He lives in this modest bungalow,
    333 Brush Hill Rd., Milton MA
    in a unit valued by Zillow at $1,649,708(US).  He could probably get a loan for a ramp.  His interest in Lunenburg's charms does not seem to extend to a desire to make it accessible to those for whom stairs are a challenge.  And who ever heard of tourists over age 65?

  • The building needs a ramp.  Ms. Lamerson seems very nice, but no disabled person can shop at her store and no disabled person can volunteer or be employed there.  No one ever seems to consider the discrimination inherent in lack of accessibility.  Ms. Lamerson's good works do not exempt her from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  The building inspector is doing her job and enforcing the law.   Good for her.
Sherman's a guy who won't do for Nova Scotians what he is required by law to do at home.  Let's be clear about who gets harmed if there's no ramp.

Gus Reed

406 - 1540 Summer St.
Halifax, NS B3H 4R9

VIA gets its knuckles rapped

Seven years after the Supreme Court of Canada chastised VIA Rail for not being wheelchair accessible, VIA has finally gotten around to begrudging compliance with the decision.  Times have certainly changed since W.C. Van Horne built a whole railroad from Ontario to Vancouver in the four years from 1881 to 1885.

Today is the inaugural trip of the accessible cabin on The Canadian, which runs from Vancouver to Toronto.  The sleeper looks pretty spiffy.

It took the determination of an artist from Iles de la Madeleine to make this happen.  Gaetane Cummings received reimbursement for her ticket, lawyer's fees and $30,000 damages.
La Madelinienne Gaetane Cummings

It's informative to read the Toronto Sun's 2010 article on the lawsuit.  In it they mistakenly assert that Cummings is 'wheelchair bound' when it is crystal clear that she is a Canadian traveler like any other who wants to see her country.  Doesn't sound like she is a prisoner.  They also say she is a 'multiple sclerosis sufferer' when it's abundantly clear that MS does not control her life in any way.  One expects a certain level of cluelessness from the Sun, and they don't disappoint.

You can read the settlement,  and the decision and decide for yourself if VIA got off lightly.  I love the parts of the settlement, obviously written by the Mad Hatter in Wonderland, where VIA denies everything before paying up.

For those of you who are 'wheelchair reliant' (nice try, but not as good as 'wheelchair liberated'), you can exact your own punishment of VIA by getting a 50% discount on the use of this accessible sleeper.  Looks to me like this is an amount in the thousands of dollars.

H/T Claredon Robichau

PS Not too late to take a stand on the Hydrostone Market.  Be like Gaetane!

Petition - Make Hydrostone Accessible - GoPetition