Will Ottawa Ever Take PWD Seriously?

I’ve lived in Centretown since 1994. Throughout the years, I’ve seen businesses come and go, but the one thing that has remained is the poor sidewalks along Bank Street.

Several years ago, parts of Bank Street were improved while others were ignored.

Since Bank Street is one of our busiest streets, the city should make necessary changes to accommodate the increased traffic.

That’s not the case, though.

Because it is Canada’s capital, I’d expect more from our city. Our city has become a poor representation of our nation. Streets are falling apart, parking is a mess, and many of the tourist spots are either under construction or not wheelchair accessible.

A shiny example is the double-decker bus tours.

If a person with a disability wants to “hop on,” they can only sit on the lower level. So, right there, we’re prevented from enjoying the same experience as able-bodied tourists.

How is that welcoming?

Last week, I mentioned the high railing on the bridge beside the Chateau Laurier and how people with disabilities are unable to enjoy the view as easily as others. What alarms me is that nobody seemed to notice, and we’re a distant thought.

If Ottawa wants to attract tourists, more needs to be done to ensure that people with disabilities are not excluded from the experience. Of course, the same applies to people who live in the city.

During the summer, I spend a lot of time rolling around Centretown. While I enjoy the sun and going to places where I’m “allowed” to go, I find myself getting frustrated by the lack of wheelchair ​​accessibility. For the most part, I end up going to the same places over and over again.

There are days when I don’t feel welcomed or valued as a person just because I have a physical disability. I can’t begin to tell you how it makes me think.

Each week, I’m given a chance to express my anger and frustrations, but nothing seems to change. I’ve met with numerous city officials and event organizers, and my concerns and recommendations have been ignored.

Each meeting either starts with a promise of change or a desire to get to the bottom of the issue, our concerns being ignored, or a photo-op for city officials and event organizers to look good and to give the illusion that something is being done.

I often get the feeling that those people want people with disabilities to remain silent and simply be content with their inclusion in the community.

To be part of the community, though, we need to be able to participate and have the same opportunities as everyone else.

Our needs shouldn’t be ignored or feel like a battle.

Failure to meet these needs also means failure to make us feel welcomed or valued in our community.

People with disabilities are not a burden on society; we are an integral part of society.

People are people. I hate the fact that people with disabilities are likely to be treated as a burden or treated differently because of their disabilities.

Again, we are people. Period.

We’re not inspirational, brave, or courageous. We aren’t a bunch of heroes just because we have a disability.

We are people doing what we can with what we have.

What needs to change in Ottawa is how people with disabilities are treated.

We need to be seen, heard and included in everything the city offers.

We want to feel like we belong.