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Letter: St. John’s needs to work harder to be accessible

I am writing this letter as a concerned citizen and member of the community of people with disabilities. The question is, when will St. John’s be a fully accessible and a truly inclusive city for all residents and visitors, regardless of their ability?

In early May, the deputy mayor of St. John’s, Ron Ellsworth, finally realized while recovering from a broken leg that our city does not meet the standards of an accessible city. This is what advocates for persons with disabilities have been pointing out for years. Being a person with a disability myself, and being a member of a cross-disability organization, and having many friends who are persons with mobility disabilities and persons who use wheelchairs, I am always keeping accessibility in my mind. Wherever I go in this city, whether that be in my own neighbourhood of the Goulds, or in the New Gower Street/ Queen Street/ Water Street area of the downtown core to work at the liquor store, I am constantly doing accessibility audits.

St. John’s, even with the work you have done in accessibility, you have a C/C-minus grade for accessibility; that’s a 70 per cent to 75 per cent.

We are partway there with some accessible features in our city, including:

• Wheelchair accessible buses on six out of 22 Metrobus routes.

• Accessible taxis.

• An inclusion crew at the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival.

• Para-transit. 

Still, many of the buildings/clubs within the City of St. John’s and the province of Newfoundland are not wheelchair accessible, nor inclusive. May 28th to June 3rd is Access-Ability Week in Canada. Will the City of St. John’s take more steps towards being a fully accessible and inclusive city? Will the province pass bylaws to make it mandatory for all buildings in Newfoundland and Labrador be fully accessible and inclusive for all those within the community of people with disabilities?


Amanda Howlett

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