Victoria city councillor Pam Madoff stands to address the crowd during an all-candidates meeting hosted by the Victoria Disability Resource Centre Monday at the Church of Truth in James Bay. (Kristyn Anthony/News Staff)

‘We live in an ableist society,’ Victoria candidates debate how to approach accessibility

All-candidates meeting hosted by Victoria Disability Resource Centre draws unanimous conclusion – city needs to do better

The consensus of an all-candidates meeting hosted by the Victoria Disability Resource Centre was clear – the city is not an accessible place.

Of the 40 candidates running for mayor and council in Victoria, 22 participated in the event transcribed by both an ASL interpreter and a typist, onto a large monitor for viewing, at the Church of Truth in James Bay.

“We live in an ableist society,” said Laurel Collins, a council hopeful running on the Together Victoria slate with Sarah Potts and Sharmarke Dubow.

Questions were submitted by local non-profits and advocacy groups including the Action Committee of People with Disabilities, Pacific Training Centre for the Blind, Transplant Rogues and Together Against Poverty Society.

RELATED: Esquimalt development a game changer for accessibility

The conversation quickly became about safety, citing concerns for visually and hearing impaired residents. Building bus stops on meridians separated from sidewalks by bike lanes was a “design flaw,” said Coun. Ben Isitt.

Council hopeful Anna King agreed saying passive discrimination can occur in planning for infrastructure.

Riga Godron, who works with the VDRC, and is running for city council said the conversations would be much different “if we had people on council who were disabled,” like herself.

The city currently has an Accessibility Working Group, created in 2016 to “identify barriers for persons with disabilities created by City of Victoria infrastructure,” according to the website.

Coun. Jeremy Loveday, who worked to put the committee in place told those in attendance the city has plans to upgrade crosswalks to include audible signals, another barrier candidates said has come up in conversations while campaigning.

Victoria has aging infrastructure, including crumbling sidewalks hard to navigate for those with mobility challenges, or who use wheelchairs.

RELATED: City awarded $1 million accessibility grant for Crystal Pool project

And with so many heritage buildings housing non-profits and social services, a lot of the vulnerable groups those resources are designed to assist, cannot access them.

“The city is stuck in 1985 in terms of retrofits required,” Mayor Lisa Helps said.

Council hopeful Ted Smith pointed out accessibility isn’t just physical in nature. “A lot of accessibility in Victoria is economic accessibility,” said the longtime cannabis activist.

On the topic of developmental disabilities, Coun. Marianne Alto was asked what the most pressing issue is facing that community.

“Stigma,” she said.

Fellow candidate Marg Gardiner agreed. “We need a real change of attitude,” she said, pushing for more creative approaches to solutions.

RELATED: B.C. needs Disability Act: Victoria council

Roughly 75 people of all abilities packed the room to hear how candidates plan to make changes in the name of inclusivity.

“This was a voice that was missing last election,” Helps said, adding she was pleased to see that change this election cycle.

The B.C. municipal election is Oct. 20.

kristyn.anthony@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Municipal election

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich cancels recreation centre membership passes due to COVID-19

Pass-holders to receive account credit or refund, facilities remain closed

Black bear sighting reported on UVic campus

University urging residents in the area to be careful

Victoria student wins $30,000 for Habitat for Humanity Victoria

Student’s grand prize win helps fund builds in Central Saanich, North Saanich

Sooke fitness facilities reopen to the public

Extra measures set in place to ensure user safety

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

POLL: Are you sending your children back to school this month?

Classrooms looked decidedly different when students headed back to school for the… Continue reading

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Alert Bay resident carves tribute to his community kicking COVID-19’s butt

‘Our little village crushed the curve with love and commitment’

End of an Era: Tofino hair studio closes shop

“We were getting excited to start ramping up and then all of sudden we had to close our doors.”

Kelowna Mountie on desk duty following ‘aggressive’ arrest

The officer involved in an arrest that took place on May 30 in Kelowna has been placed on administrative duties

Protests shift to memorializing George Floyd amid push for change

‘There is something better on the other side of this,’ says Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom

Most Read