Greetings to our new mayor and city councillors.
Another election in Ottawa has come and gone.
I know that some of you are tired of talking about it and perhaps still recovering from the results.
Between the election last week and the ongoing inquiry regarding the use of the Emergencies Act during the occupation, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster for many in Ottawa.
I’m in the same boat, well, the same wheelchair.
A week ago, I was full of hope. I was hopeful that Ottawa would turn a corner and finally elect a mayor that was putting all people first instead of just those with money and driving everywhere.
Perhaps, it’s my fault for having too much hope, but I felt my heart sink as the results rolled in. Monday night and the following days were tough on me, and I’m still not 100 percent even today.
Regardless of how we feel about Mayor-elect Mark Sutcliffe, he will be our mayor for at least the next four years.
As a person with a disability, it saddens me and others in the PWD community. Many of us feel like we’re getting Jim Watson 2.0.
During my time at OLM and on other platforms, I’ve discussed how Ottawa continues to ignore people with disabilities in great detail.
One major topic is our public transportation system, particularly wheelchair-accessible taxis and Para Transpo. To a larger extent, OC Transpo. People with disabilities also use buses and the LRT when it’s not broken.
Who am I kidding? The entire system is broken. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if I’m referring to OC Transpo or general.
As an advocate who happens to be a PWD, our community will need to repeat our concerns. Repeat our concerns, and demand better service for users of Para Transpo and wheelchair-accessible transportation.
PWD NEED to continue to have our voices heard at the big table at City Hall and anywhere we can. The sad thing is I don’t know if some of us still have the energy or if our physical or mental health is up for the task.
As someone who’s been a fierce advocate for several years, it becomes draining, and I know several others feel the same way. I’m sure most of us would love to bang our heads. Perhaps, it’s a good thing that some of us aren’t physically able to do so.
As for myself, I’ll still continue to advocate and fight for PWD to be heard instead of just being seen. See, that’s another thing that bothers me. Maybe bother isn’t the right word because I’m used to it.
Why do some (or many) people seemingly have no problem staring at PWD, but yet, the moment we speak, we disappear?
Considering my wheelchair weighs over 500 lbs, I should become a magician.
Seriously, the local PWD community has a long road ahead of us. Often, it feels like we’re rolling up a steep hill while our batteries or arms are low on power.
Although this article may seem doom and gloom, I’m still hopeful.
As a voter who lives in the Somerset Ward, Ariel Troster is our new city councillor. As some of you may recall, Ariel Troster was on my list of candidates willing to listen and work with PWD to have our voices heard at City Hall.
I look forward to continuing our conversation and meeting the new city councillors. Again, I want to say that I love educating others about people with disabilities and my particular disability.
What I don’t love is having to repeat myself to those who choose not to listen.
Let’s be fair, though. Mark Sutcliffe hasn’t been sworn in yet. Maybe, once he starts seeing members of the PWD at City Hall, he’ll be open to listening and addressing our concerns.
Let’s face it: PWD aren’t going away anytime soon, not if they’re using Para Transpo at least.
Our population will continue to grow. As we grow, we shall continue to fight for what many take for granted.
We have a right to be heard, to feel safe, and to be a part of this city. People with disabilities are tired of being ignored and overlooked year after year after year.
Mr. Sutcliffe, are you prepared to take us seriously, or are you, in fact, Jim Watson 2.0?