Taking a Trip Down Memory Lane Should be Wheelchair Accessible

During the summer months, Ottawa comes alive with festivals. So far, I’ve attended RBC Bluesfest, the Fringe Festival, ​​and the Buskers Festival. Still to come is CityFolk, which takes place from September 13th to 17th.

One festival that I didn’t attend was the Nostalgia Music Festival, which took place this past weekend.

Each year, the festival brings some of the world’s best classic rock tribute bands together for a weekend of reliving great memories of the days when music was great.

This year’s lineup included One Vision Of Queen (Queen), Fleetwood Mac Mania (Fleetwood Mac), Elton Rohn (Elton John), Who Are You (The Who)

As a fan of classic rock, that’s a pretty good lineup. To this day, I’m still a fan of Queen and Elton John, and, of course, the Who.

Before I go on, I want to mention that I was invited to check it out, see how wheelchair accessible it was, and provide feedback.

As it turned out, the reason why I was invited quickly became the reason why I didn’t end up going.

While I may not have been there in person, a friend purchased a full pass.

Many in the city already know Sally Thomas either as an artist, an advocate voicing the concerns of Para Transpo, or just from her many adventures out and about.

Sally gave me full permission to use her photos for this article.

Before we get to the pictures, I’ll explain why I considered the festival not wheelchair accessible, at least for me.

The first red flag was being unable to use the washrooms inside the Canadian War Museum. To be fair, I had been made aware of this a while ago. At least, I knew that it was a possibility.

Their solution was to install ​​porta-potties, which is pretty standard for all outdoor music festivals,

In my many years of attending music festivals, I’ve only been able to get my wheelchair through a few. Each time I did, the back end of my chair would stick out of the doorway due to the lack of space.

Sally notified me that she had difficulty getting her chair into the porta-potties. Sally’s wheelchair is much smaller than mine. If she found it tight, there’s no way I would have been able to fit.

Having easy access to the washrooms is essential for me. Besides the obvious reason, I must use the washroom almost every hour to clear my lungs.

Another important thing to consider is being able to get indoors quickly in case of rain. While I have a poncho, my chair has gotten wet many times. Since I’m still waiting for my new chair to be ready, I can’t risk damaging my chair any further.

The second red flag is regarding Para Transpo.

During Bluesfest and big sports events at TD Place, a supervisor from OC Transpo will be available onsite to make sure that Para Transpo riders can get on their right bus to get home safely. They’re also there to let us know if our ride is coming.

Safety is paramount when leaving an event like Bluesfest, especially for people with disabilities.

The other red flag for me was those pesky wire protectors, which ironically remind me of speed bumps.

During Bluesfest, most are either in the grass or at least the one by the main stage has a ramp over the bumpy part.

ABOVE: Sally Thomas attending Nostalgia Fest in Ottawa without OLM contributor Ryan Lythall who was unable to take part because there weren’t wheelchair accessible washrooms. (RIGHT) At outdoor events, wire covers are painful speedbumps for people in wheelchairs.


Going over one is extremely painful and sometimes even impossible without a ramp.

So, while one could say that I didn’t give them a fair chance, I also knew what I’d be getting myself into.

I’m disappointed that I felt I needed to turn down the opportunity. From the videos and photos I saw, it looked like a fun weekend.

While disappointed I couldn’t go, I realized it was not my fault.

Most, if not all, of it falls on the shoulders of the festival organizers for going ahead with the event without proper planning regarding wheelchair accessibility and access to bathrooms inside the War Museum.

Wheelchair-accessible bathrooms should be mandatory at all public events. Why is it still an ongoing issue?

Speaking of ongoing issues, the Nostalgia Music Festival had a raised platform so people with disabilities could see the show. Like at Bluesfest, people in the VIP sections had a better view.

With better planning and better wheelchair accessibility, the Nostalgia Music Festival will have bigger crowds.

Bigger crowds mean more money.

For many, money is music to their ears.