That was the honest assessment from Ald. Dave Warden this past Monday as he attempted to navigate a wheelchair into the downstairs washroom at St. Thomas Public Library.
This corner and accessibility advocate Ed McLachlan invited Warden to revisit the route taken four years ago when he agreed to participate in our initial accessibility challenge.
He was humbled when it came time to answer nature’s call.
“People in a wheelchair don’t have the ability to cheat,” stressed Warden, has he attempted to back into a stall and then wash his hands at the sink.
“Even if you could use those washrooms, what really concerns me is you cannot use those sinks. You can’t wash your hands and that is a major concern.”
Having noted that, progress has been made at the library since Warden accepted our invite in 2006.
“They have made significant improvements and with the new washrooms that will be built on the main floor, that will all be dealt with. At the board level, the library is making every effort to make the building user-friendly and accessible to people.
“The ramp is not as steep a slope . . . and the big difference I notice is the space between the book shelves has been widened and there is turning access at the end of rows,” Warden continued.
“They’ve been proactive in dealing with the situation and that’s what needs to be done with all the buildings.”
All of which leads into the main portion of our second accessibility challenge, which will be completed in the coming week or so.
Plaudits to Ald. Heather Jackson-Chapman, Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands and aldermanic hopefuls Joan Rymal, Linda Stevenson, Ryan Dolby, Wayne Northcott and Bill Sandison who agreed to experience some of the challenges faced by those with accessibility issues.
They will be taken to municipal facilities including the Timken Centre, Pinafore and Waterworks parks, city hall and the police station to gain a perspective on the frustrations many residents have to deal with on a daily basis.
Watch this space for stories and photos to appear in the coming weeks.
HITTING THE BRAKES
With the death Tuesday of Ald. Terry Shackelton, city council finds itself in “lame duck” status, as defined in the Ontario Municipal Act.
Under the act, it is placed in that position if the new council “will include less than three-quarters of the members of the out-going council.”
Ald. Bill Aarts has announced he is leaving for potentially-greener pastures in Southwold, while Mayor Cliff Barwick and Jackson-Chapman can’t both lay claim to the mayor’s office and, in fact, neither may wear that chain following the Oct. 25 vote.
At best, the incoming council can only have five members who sat on the current edition.
As such, council is faced with four restrictions impacting hiring and firing of employees, appointments or removal from office, disposition of municipal property with a value in excess of $50,000 when acquired and expenditures or liability that exceeds $50,000, unless included in the budget.
While this doesn’t necessarily handcuff council, it no doubt will be addressed at Monday’s meeting.
A NIFTY CONCEPT
The Chamber of Commerce has come up with a creative solution to presenting mayoral/aldermanic candidates to the public.
With more than 20 in the running for office in St. Thomas, getting their message out at an all-candidates meeting is a logistical nightmare.
However, President and CEO Bob Hammersley contacted this corner Tuesday with an idea and an invite.
The chamber is set to host a meet-the-candidates evening, Oct. 13 at St. Anne’s Centre, beginning with a mix and mingle at 5 p.m.
Around 6 p.m. the candidates will be briefly introduced and then a distinguished panel of three media luminaries, including Dan Reith, Terry Carroll and a long-haired representative from City Scope, will be given a microphone and 15 minutes each to delve into the platforms and issues with those seeking the confidence of voters.
That hour of so of badgering will be followed by another opportunity for those in attendance to socialize with the incumbents and the hopefuls.
All the makings for a memorable evening.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“He was honest, that’s the greatest epitaph a politician can have: he was an honest guy.”
Mayor Cliff Barwick pays the highest tribute to Ald. Terry Shackelton, who died Tuesday after a lengthy illness.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.