Tawdry opportunism at the Timken Centre

Barb Gammon is seeing red these days and the St. Thomas resident is taking direct aim at city staff and members of council, in particular Ald. Terry Shackelton.

Her anger prompted a letter to the T-J to focus in on a highly questionable sighting earlier this month at the Timken Centre.

Barb writes, “When the weather gets cold, I will walk around the track at the Timken Centre. Last week as I made my rounds, I discovered a new sign at the end of the arena where the ice machine goes on and off of the ice pad.

“To my surprise the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA) had been placed on a part of railing that the city was now calling accessible with an alderman’s name (Shackelton) next to the sign. This part of the railing is not accessible for wheelchairs to watch any part of the ice pad.”

The sign apparently was paid for by Ald. Shackelton, although the facility in no way can be deemed accessible to all. This has been a contentious and shameful issue since the day it opened.

Barb continues, “Upon reading the sign, I ask myself, ‘why has the city condoned the use of the international disabled symbol for this alderman’s campaign sign?’ The sign says he supports accessibility, yet the space is not an accessible area in the arena.”

She has questions … plenty of them, as she continues.

“Would some of the city’s accessibility advocates agree with the use of this sign? Would Stan Taylor, who fought to get audible traffic lights by the Metro store (at Elgin Mall), agree with this?

“Would Ed McLachlan, who fights for the rights of the hearing impaired and disabled children and adults, agree with the way this symbol is used? Would Cathy Topping, who just got a provincial award for her work in accessibility (Thumbs Up Program), think the use of this symbol is right?”

I think we already know the answer to those valid questions.

“Don’t the disabled have enough barriers to deal with, without people creating more? Do people know that this symbol is copyrighted by the International Commission on Technology and Accessibility? Doesn’t the city know that there is a list of specific uses for this symbol as set out by the above organization?”

It’s an embarrassing and offensive situation that should never have been allowed to take place. The fact this sign was quietly removed this week does not alter the mind set that seems to prevail in some quarters.

By now, you have a sense of Barb’s utter frustration — which is not solely prompted by the Timken Centre sign.

“Is this the reason why many of our public places are not accessible? Does not the local Municipal ODA committee have a say in what is accessible and what is not? Is there a problem with the Municipal ODA committee’s say on accessible public places? Why should this sign have even been put up in the first place?”

While not on Tuesday’s council agenda, the captain of the ship should take the wheel and shed light on who authorized the placement of this insulting sign.

We’ll give Barb the last word.

“Being disabled myself, I am always conscious of accessibility within our community. My family and friends will be voting for someone who is much more knowledgeable about accessibility and doesn’t create barriers for others.”


City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: mccallum@stthomastimesjournal.com.

2 thoughts on “Tawdry opportunism at the Timken Centre

  1. At best this is a serious error in judgement and we need a better understanding of how this transpired so that we can prevent a recurrence.
    – who produced the sign?
    – who approved the placement of the sign in the Timken Centre?
    – was Alderman Shackleton paying a fee to have the sign displayed, and if so, how much and to whom?
    – why was the sign removed?

    According to the Ministry of Community and Social Services;
    “The wheelchair symbol should only be used to indicate access for individuals with limited mobility, including wheelchair users. For example, the symbol is used to indicate an accessible entrance, bathroom or that a phone is lowered for wheelchair users.”

    In addition to a timely response to Barb’s questions, the arrangement between Alderman Shackleton and the Timken Centre for placement of the sign should be fully disclosed.

    Bill Sandison
    Candidate for St. Thomas Alderman 2010


  2. That is a key point here – who authorized the placement of this sign in a public facility where taxpayers are on the hook financially for about $9 million? The new facility manager, committee chairman Ald. David Warden, Ross Tucker from Parks and Rec? It was the latter, as I understand it, who directed the sign be taken down. If this is Terry’s idea of campaigning for re-election, it is in extremely poor taste.


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