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Supporting an ‘Active’ Recovery Means Improving the Accessibility of Outdoor Spaces

The government’s investment in active transportation should benefit rural, accessible outdoor spaces Opinion by Benjamin Rempel, Joe Doiron
July 19, 2021

Before Catherine McKenna, minister of infrastructure and communities, announced her planned departure from politics, she outlined significant investments to support active transportation across Canada. At the time few took notice. But four months later, this infusion of funding has taken on new importance as Canadians flock outdoors to reclaim their physical and mental health.

The funding includes $400 million to retrofit and develop new pathways, bike lanes, multi-use trails and sidewalks. The money will also support the government’s commitment to create an active transportation strategy – a first for Canada. This is exciting news, to be sure. But before supports are enacted to get more Canadians walking and wheeling, the government must consider several key issues.

Montreal Advocates Call for Better Accessibility

By Phil Carpenter , Global News
Posted July 16, 2021

Marie Pontini is a competitive bodybuilder who likes to keep active.

But she’s frustrated that she cannot always get to where she wants to. There isn’t always access for her wheelchair, which she uses because she has multiple sclerosis.

“New buildings, they have to be accessible,” she told Global News, “but there’s no guidelines that tell them how to make it accessible.”

Pontini pointed out that the problem of accessibility for people with reduced mobility in the city is nothing new and that for years they’ve been demanding improved access. According to her, more businesses and building owners could easily make the accommodations more effective by consulting experts – the people who need to services.

Accessible Water Wheelchair, Access Mat Helping People Enjoy Regina Beach

A group of residents raised money for the equipment
Heidi Atter, CBC News
Posted: Jul 08, 2021

People who use wheelchairs can now take a dip in Last Mountain Lake at Regina Beach much more easily thanks to a group of residents who got together to raise money for equipment that makes the beach accessible.

The beach now has an access mat and “waterwheels,” a special buoyant wheelchair designed to be used in the water. The mat gives a stable surface for people in wheelchairs to use over the sand.

Five residents, including Janey Davies, raised the money to make it a reality. They started fundraising before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, then pivoted to online auctions, draws and a sports tournament.

Calgary Councillor Asks for Improved Accessibility Around Popular Pop-Up Patios

Ina Sidhu CTV News Calgary Video Journalist
Published Wednesday, June 16, 2021

CALGARY –Calgarians with or without mobility issues are taking to social media to point out flaws with some of the temporary sidewalk setups around pop-up patios.

“They’re not leaving enough room to give the wheelchair a chance to turn on the end of the ramp,” said Athena Cooper, who uses a motorized wheelchair.

Cooper came across a ramp on Kensington Road N.W. at the end of May which wasn’t easy to access and tweeted her concern.

“My concern when I posted it was that are people aware that you know this is an issue. You can’t just lay a ramp down and say, “Okay we’re now accessible.”

Advocates Calling on the City to Enforce Accessibility Policies in Construction Zones

Mike Arsenault Video Journalist
Published Saturday, June 19, 2021

Advocates are calling on the city to enforce its accessibility policies at construction locations.

WINNIPEG –Summer in Winnipeg is often paired with plenty of construction work, but some sites in the city are making it difficult for people with mobility challenges.

Barricades and broken concrete are blocking a portion of the sidewalk along Portage Avenue in the St. James area. For Allen Mankewich, who uses a wheelchair, the barricades are nearly impossible to get around.

Smart Shoes Help the Visually Impaired

Maider GameroAAP
Mon, 17 May 2021

Smart shoes can tell visually impaired people if there are obstacles in their path.

Shoes with sensors embedded in them have been created to alert blind and visually impaired people to obstacles in their path.

Developed by Austria’s Tec-Innovation company in collaboration with the Graz University of Technology, the intelligent shoes can increase the safety of visually impaired and blind people in their everyday life.

The warning system includes an ultra-bright LED and two sensors placed at the front of each shoe.

The sensors detect obstacles and notify the wearer through vibration feedback in the shoe or sound warning signals via a smartphone.

Court Certifies Class of People With Disabilities Excluded From NYC Subway System Due To Lack of Stair-Free Access In Violation of NYC Human Rights Law

February 23, 2021

New York, NYYesterday the New York Supreme Court certified a class of all people with disabilities for whom the use of stairs is difficult or impossible and who are therefore unable to access over 75% of the New York City subway.

Fewer than 25% of the New York City subway’s 472 stations provide stair-free access, meaning the MTA excludes hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers with mobility disabilities each day from this vital system.

New National Partnership Focuses on Improving Accessibility on The Great Trail of Canada

Canadian Paralympians and Para athletes join AccessNow and Trans Canada Trail to provide valuable accessibility feedback on trails across Canada OTTAWA, ON and MONTREAL, Feb. 23, 2021 /CNW/

Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and AccessNow ” a Canadian social startup that works through mapping to facilitate accessibility in countries around the world ” are excited to announce a new partnership aimed at increasing accessibility on trails across the country.

By working together on initiatives that lead to information being shared via the AccessNow app, Canadians will be able to discover barrierfree routes as well as identify areas where barriers still exist so they can be addressed, resulting in increased accessibility along The Great Trail.

Ice Now Open in Parkdale, at Alberta’s First Accessible Outdoor Rink

Wider bench doors, transparent boards included in first phase of construction Hannah Kost, CBC News
Posted: Feb 17, 2021

Phase 1 of construction has officially been completed on the Parkdale Community Rink & Hub, which means accessible and inclusive ice is now open for skaters and sledge hockey players.

The Parkdale Community Association said the outdoor rink in the northwest Calgary neighbourhood is the first of its kind in Alberta, and only the second in Canada.

The first phase of the project saw the rink completed with inclusivity in mind.

Federal Court Rules NYC Discriminates Against Blind and Low Vision Pedestrians by Failing to Make Crosswalk Signals Accessible

New York, NY – In a decision that will remake the streetscape of New York City and improve safety and accessibility for all New Yorkers, a federal court ruled today that New York City’s failure to provide accessible pedestrian signals (APS) at 96.6 % of its signalized intersections violates the civil rights of people with disabilities. APS are push-button devices attached to crosswalks that convey visual crossing information in audible and vibro-tactile formats accessible to blind, low vision, and Deafblind pedestrians.