Glace Bay Senior Upset She was Denied Service at Drive-Thru in Motorized Wheelchair

Nicole Sullivan |
Posted: August 25, 2022

GLACE BAY, N.S. – Beverly O’Donnell likes to hit the road in her motorized wheelchair and ride into town whenever the weather is nice.

The 68-year-old says she tells the nurses at Seaview Manor long-term care facility she’s heading “wherever my four wheels take me” and will be back by dark.

“I can go anywhere I want to go as long as I don’t run out of power,” she said, with a laugh.

It takes O’Donnell 25-30 minutes to go to downtown Glace Bay and she likes to run errands. Over the past six years, she’s been using a motorized wheelchair for mobility. She has often used drive-thrus at fast food restaurants because their locations were not accessible for her.

There was never a problem until Monday when she tried to get a lemonade from the Tim Hortons drive-thru in Sterling to take her medication with.

She was refused because a motorized wheelchair isn’t a motor vehicle and O’Donnell “wasn’t too pleased.”

“I told them (in my Facebook post) kiss my business goodbye. I guess my business doesn’t mean much,” she said.

Accessible for some

O’Donnell posted her criticism about being refused service at the Tim Hortons’ drive-thru at the location on her Facebook page.

Shared over 300 times by Thursday afternoon, comments were mostly in favour of the business. Some cited safety issues and indicated the Tim Hortons location is wheelchair accessible.

One person who identified themselves as an employee working the day O’Donnell was in said her child has a disability and they have no problem using the accessible doors, located on McGean Street when they visit.

The employee also said they saw O’Donnell drive in between the two lanes of the drive-thru and cars up to the drive-thru window. The employee also said there have been motor vehicle accidents there and it wasn’t safe for O’Donnell to be there in her wheelchair.

O’Donnell said she turned around in the drive-thru but wasn’t crossing lanes. She also said the accessible doors aren’t accessible for her getting in alone.

“I’d like to know where the accessible doors are,” said O’Donnell. “The way the building is made the doors are I had trouble getting in when I had my walker.”

There are many places downtown O’Donnell feels aren’t accessible to everyone who uses a wheelchair.

A few years ago at one downtown Glace Bay business, O’Donnell injured her finger badly trying to get in a doorway with a step that was too high.

“My finger swelled so much they wanted to cut my wedding band off,” said the widow. “I said, ‘No way. You will have to cut my finger off first.'”

“I guess my business doesn’t mean much.” – Beverly O’Donnell

Full accessible Nova Scotia

An interview request emailed to the Tim Hortons media relations department on Aug. 23 was not granted.

A response asking for more store information was sent on Monday. The Cape Breton Post sent a follow-up request on Tuesday. By publication time, no reply was received.

Nova Scotia is in the process of becoming fully accessible by 2030. It was the third province to introduce accessibility legislation when the Accessibility Act was passed in 2017.

In 2018, the government put forward a strategy toward having a fully accessible province by 2030. Outlined in the Access by Design 2030 plan, which was published in 2018, the goal is to ensure disabled people in Nova Scotia have equal access to:

  • Buildings
  • Outdoor spaces
  • Inclusive public schools
  • Inclusive post-secondary education
  • Employment
  • Goods and services
  • Transportation

In order to achieve these outcomes, a number of steps must be taken and are detailed in the Access to Design plan. The first is standards development.

According to the plan, the Accessibility Advisory committee will develop accessibility standards which will then be implemented. Development of the standards committee was to be done over four years (2018-2021) and the fourth standard development area is being worked on in 2022, according to the plan.

Nicole Sullivan is an immigration/diversity and education reporter for the Cape Breton Post.

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