When Our Air Suffers, We All Suffer

By Ryan Lythall

As a ventilator-dependent person, last week was quite scary.

Ottawa was under a poor air quality advisory for three days due to smoke about two hours away.

It was my first experience with poor air quality in Ottawa. I heard reports of staying indoors. I had errands to do and did what I could when possible.

Besides, I’m not one to listen to rules and refuse to allow my disability to take the wheel and steer.

As far as my lungs were concerned, I felt no real difference. My ventilator has several filters, which are changed ​​frequently. From my perspective, the outside was very hazy but oddly beautiful.

Yes, I’m sometimes weird, but I also know others who thought it was beautiful in a post-apocalyptic way.

Out of curiosity, I wanted to know how poor air quality affects others in similar situations.

In short, the answer is to stay indoors, keep all equipment clean and change the filters often.


On a more serious note, I know several people were affected by poor air quality last week. Symptoms ranged from minor nose and throat irritation to headaches, coughing, and shortness of breath.

Outside conditions have improved, and as I’m writing this, rain is on the way.

But what does the future hold for us?

Are we in store for another wave of poor air quality in the future?

Recently, the weather has been crazier than usual.

There have been days where it’s been sunny and warm, and the next day felt like Fall, especially at night.

Cool nights are better for sleeping but not for going out. It makes making plans difficult, especially when using Para Transpo.

Should I book Para Transpo in case the temps drop? If I end up cancelling the booking, Para Transpo gets angry, and yadda yadda yadda. Also, cancelling a Para Transpo booking can be a hassle.

Para Transpo should at least feel relieved and even thankful when a person decides to cancel a booking.

Many appreciate one less person to worry about and less work for the drivers. Also, it leaves more space for other people to use Para Transpo, especially at the last minute, at least in theory.

In 2019, along with other municipalities in Canada, the city of Ottawa declared a climate emergency.

Four years later, very little has changed; it feels like it’s worsening.

Flooding continues to be a problem in many parts of our city. This past Winter, the Rideau Canal Skateway remained closed for the first time.

Climate change is real, and our city needs to take real action.

Instead of continuing to clog up our streets with vehicles, we need to allow more open spaces for cyclists, strollers, and people with disabilities who require mobility devices. We need to be more open-minded about building more bike lanes,

Why does Ottawa continue to focus on cars and vehicles that are polluting the air and affecting those of us with breathing conditions?

What did we do to deserve this, and why does the “climate emergency” continue to be ignored?

The longer we wait to act, the worse it will get.

Floods will continue to occur, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rideau Canal Skateway remains closed next year and for years to come. Our weather and more unpredictable weather are already changing and will continue to change.

Along with all of the above, our healthcare system will be further pushed to the limit due to an increase in the number of people affected by our changing climate.

As for people with disabilities and those with medical conditions affected by our changing climate, we already face numerous obstacles in our daily lives, especially regarding getting out and about. We don’t need more barriers. We need and deserve fewer barriers.

I hate for this to selfishly be about me and my health, but this Summer, I have tickets for Bluesfest and Cityfolk. I can’t help but feel a bit anxious about the weather and if our air quality will be good.

Regardless of how we do it, we all must breathe to live.

If a person who technically “isn’t physically able to breathe” can understand that, why can’t the city of Ottawa?

Perhaps we all need to sit down, take a deep breath, and get rolling on it,