Winter in Ottawa — delivering independence

Judging by the amount of snow that fell over the weekend, I think we can all safely say that it feels more than Winter. With all this snow on the ground, it means that people with disabilities, particularly those with mobility issues, have an even more challenging time getting around.

Before I go on, I should point out that I’m fully aware of the stay at home order and all of the rules surrounding it.

Right now, the stay at home order hasn’t made my life any different.

During the winter months, I typically stay home most days. As I’ve briefly mentioned in a previous column, a large part of the reason for that is because Ottawa does a poor job of plowing sidewalks and roadways. Judging by the photos that I saw this weekend, very little has changed.

It appeared that snow was cleared from the road in one photo, but they had decided to pile it onto a bike path. To me, that’s both ridiculous and dangerous. I know tons of riders and also people in wheelchairs that use bike lanes all year long. Just imagine a person in a wheelchair having to drive into the street just because of a huge snow pile?

As you can see, the winter can be quite tricky, and many PWD simply choose to stay home. Moreso this year, due to the stay at home order.

Thankfully for us and many others, more businesses offer delivery, not just for food.

Just last week, I had to rely on delivery twice.

In my case, I ran out of food for my pet rabbit. Thankfully, the pet store that I often go to offers delivery. I went to their website to purchase what I needed, and they delivered it the next day.

For those wondering, the store is called Healthy Pets HQ.

Their website is, and their store is located at 420 Bank Street.

I always do my best to buy local, but it isn’t still possible for me.

Such reasons could be because the store isn’t wheelchair accessible, high prices, don’t offer what I need, and unreliable delivery.

In those cases, I have very little choice but to use a big box store. I’m not a fan of them, but sometimes I have no other choice, especially if it’s semi-urgent.

In my second story of needing an urgent delivery last week, I used Instacart.

I’ve used Instacart for the past several years, and it’s always been during the winter.

I live near a Loblaws. It’s pretty easy for me to go there in the summertime and pick up what I need.

In the winter, though, I can’t do that.

For me, shopping online is not just about convenience. It’s also about independence.

When I see or hear about a product that I might be interested in, I can research it online or ask others. If I decide to buy it, I type in my information and wait for it to arrive at my place.

When I shop in an actual store, I’ll see the item. Then, my PSW will sometimes need to bring the item closer to me to show me. If I wish to buy it, my PSW needs to get my wallet, grab my bank card, and if they’re new, I’ll need to give them my PIN so I can pay for the item. After all that, if the item(s) is large, I’ll need to figure out a way to bring it home.

If I’m using Para Transpo to get home, some drivers will refuse to help their passengers get their item(s) in & out of the vehicle.

So, for people with disabilities having the ability to shop online and getting it delivered is extremely important. We may not necessarily like where we bought it from, but other options are often quite literally not accessible to us.