I saw this article in my local newspaper and it made me think. This is an issue that I am very conflicted about. I haven’t really come to an absolute decision about this- it’s a really complicated issue.
The humanitarian in me instantly thinks that everyone should have equal access to everything. In an ideal world this would most certainly be the case. I sympathize with Mike who says: “You can’t live a spontaneous life, especially in the winter.” While I do not know what it’s like to be confined to a wheelchair I do understand the concept of having to plan out activities or change plans due to accessibility or disability. I agree that businesses should be wheelchair accessible, and have no problem with disability parking. But when it comes down to it, making everything accessible to everyone is just not realistic.
According to this article, Toronto is in the process of replacing some streetcars and cabs with new, accessible versions by 2014 and 2015 respectively. Money is also being spent on Wheel-Trans, which is a TTC service for the disabled. It does appear that some work needs to be done as booking must be done a few days in advance. I’m not sure if the money is being spent in the most effective way, but it seems like the main issues are known to those with the power to make changes.
About 6 months ago I read an article demanding that ALL taxis should be wheelchair accessible. This is where my practical (and perhaps what some people would call cold) side kicks in. In what universe does Toronto have the money to spend on making all taxis wheelchair accessible? The most recent statistics I could find said that 11% of Canadians would describe themselves as having mobility issues. An even smaller percentage is in wheelchairs. While I’m not suggesting that we forget about this segment of the population, we have limited resources and they must be spent in a way that helps the most people in the most effective way. Should money be spent on accessibility? Absolutely. Should we spend so much money on accessibility that it hurts other important aspects of the city? I don’t think so.
I hope that the city will use the money they do have effectively to improve service for those who need it to get around. There’s a happy solution out there, we just have to find it!