Dear new Sens owners: Please keep PWD in mind

Last Thursday, I attended my first Ottawa Senators game in several years.

I was excited to go, especially when I learned that Ryan Reynolds would also be there.

I’ve been a fan of his for a long time and hoped to meet him. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, but the Sens won, and I had a blast.

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about who will be the new owner of the Sens and whether or not a new arena will be built.

As a long-time Sens fan and going to the Canadian Tire Centre (CTC) to see them play and other events, I’m happy that things seem to be moving in the right direction.

Don't get me wrong, the Canadian Tire Centre is a good arena with a great atmosphere, but it’s time for a new arena in a new location.

Many may disagree, but I’ve always thought Kanata was a terrible location for an NHL arena. I’ve always believed that it should’ve been built downtown in the first place.

For those unfamiliar with Ottawa, Kanata is a suburb of Ottawa about a half hour from downtown. It can be a long drive for those not living or working downtown. If you’re taking public transit, it can be even more time-consuming.

That is IF OC Transpo or Para Traanspo shows up at all.

While I’ve never taken the bus to the CTC, I’ve heard many stories about buses being late or not showing up. As a Para Transpo user, there have been many times when it took over an hour to get from my home in Centretown to the CTC.

I understand that OC Transpo is largely to blame for the delays, but let’s be honest about Ottawa.

After 5 p.m., Ottawa, for the most part, shuts down.

We are a political town whether we like it or not. Most government buildings, including the Parliament buildings, are located in the downtown core and nearby Gatineau.

After a long day of work, not many people are willing to make the long trek to the city's West end. While one could argue that most home games are near sell-outs, I firmly believe that if the arena were downtown, more people would be willing to attend Sens games and other events.

Another big reason I believe that Ottawa needs a new arena is for better wheelchair accessibility, including more accessible seating.

Currently, wheelchair-accessible sections are located on three levels of the Canadian Tire Centre. However, space is extremely limited and tends to fill up quickly. Due to a lack of space, people with disabilities have difficulties bringing families and friends to games and events.

The fact is that people with disabilities are given much fewer seating options than those who are able-bodied. I would like to see more seats and bigger spaces for their mobility devices.

While I’m on the subject of more spaces for people with disabilities, another big problem I encounter is needing to buy another ticket for my PSW/Attendant. This is a big problem for me and other PWD who always require assistance. For those on ODSP, the cost of a ticket is already a high cost for them, then to have to pay for a second ticket for their caregiver makes it nearly impossible for us to afford to go to games and events.

Some of you are probably wondering, what if the person they’re with isn’t their caregiver? Maybe they’re a friend or partner. Well, here’s the thing, in many cases, friends, family, and partners often assist the PWD in some way, even if it’s just for outings.

I suggest having a system similar to TD Place arena and inside TD Place stadium. For PWD with an Access 2 Card, only one ticket is required. With that policy in place, more PWD have been able to attend games and events at TD Place.

As with any business, big or small, one of the main objectives is to make as much profit as possible. To do that, being able to sell tickets to as many people as possible is important. A good way of doing that is by being truly accessible to everyone.

The more accessible the venue is, the more people can attend.

Together, we can all be part of a winning team.

Photo: via Marketing Magazine