Remembering a leader from the Ontario PWD community

ABOVE: The Hon. David Onley, Ontario's 28th Lieutenant Governor. (RIGHT) Snow-covered city sidewalk in front of Ryan Lythall's home.

Before I dive deep into this week’s column, I want to take a few moments to talk about the passing of David Onley.

David Onley was Ontario’s 28th Lieutenant Governor. He served from 2007 to 2014. His story is genuinely memorable because he was the first lieutenant governor who was physically disabled.

Before being our lieutenant governor, David Onley worked as a television journalist. At the time, he was one of the first on-air journalists in Canada with a disability.

David was also outspoken about wheelchair accessibility and served as chair of the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council, among other accessibility councils.

While I never had the honour of meeting David Onley, I followed his life and career, which inspired me to become a stronger advocate for people with disabilities.

I can safely speak for the PWD community by saying thank you, Mr. Onley, for everything you did to give PWD a voice and bring awareness to wheelchair accessibility. I sincerely hope that both Ontario and Canada continue to make progress when it comes to wheelchair accessibility and listening to PWD.

In a follow-up to last week’s column, Ottawa’s LRT system is up and running again, at least as I’m typing this.

In true fashion, OC Transpo showed off their snow-clearing machine to the media. If only the city and OC Transpo put in the same amount of effort and money towards plowing sidewalks, we’d all be able to get around much easier.

Last week, Ottawa was hit pretty hard by a snowstorm. As per usual, I was stuck at home. While the snow was falling, I looked at pictures and videos of the roads on social media.

To give you a sense of how bad the sidewalks were in my area, one of my PSW took the above photo of the sidewalk outside my building on Friday afternoon.

While browsing online, I came across a video of someone driving. While driving, they saw a person in a powered wheelchair forced to use the road because the sidewalks were covered in snow.

Clearly, that’s very dangerous.

Now, I hate repeating myself, and I apologize for doing so.

When will the city accept that only some people drive or can afford to take public transit? After last week’s fiasco with the LRT, people will avoid public transit when possible.

Ottawa needs to realize that many still bike in the winter, and people with disabilities still want and need to leave their homes.

I’ve also heard from a few Para Transpo drivers saying that their vehicles became stuck in the snow.

If Para Transpo isn’t able to pick up passengers, how are PWD able to get out?

That means we run the risk of not being able to get to important medical appointments, do errands, or in some cases, be able to function like a human.

I’m honestly getting fed up with how PWD and seniors are forced to stay home during the winter. This could all be avoided if the city gave a damn about clearing the sidewalks.

Seriously, how hard can it be?

The other thing that bothers me, and I’m pretty sure I’ve previously discussed this. As the storm continued, the news was quick to mention how good of a job the city’s snow clearing had done.

I guess they didn’t see the numerous posts by people saying they hadn’t seen a snow plow or that various sidewalks were either ignored or had snow piles right in the middle.

If able-bodied people have difficulty getting to bus stops, how are people with disabilities supposed to get around?