Is North Dundas accessible enough?

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Supporting small, local businesses is something that we are all encouraged to do routinely. One Winchester resident raises an important point, however: perhaps the most critical necessity of doing business is making sure that customers are able to get through the door. 

Is North Dundas sufficiently accessible for those with unique mobility needs? While it’s probably true that our Township scores better than many other places in terms of accessibility features such as wheelchair ramps and automatic door openers, there is still plenty of room for improvement. Angie Armstrong-Baker noticed the problem after having two surgeries which subsequently required her to use various mobility aids. 

“It has been eye opening and sad to see how horrible it is to get around town and not being able to get into some stores,” said Angie. “I love to support local but if I can’t even get into a building it is hard.” Angie has had to make use of aids including a cane, crutches, a wheelchair, a walker and a mobility scooter since her surgeries. 

“I was thinking for the annual shop crawl in November, a few members of the Township should attempt it using these devices just to see how terrible it is for many of the residents with mobility issues,” added Angie. “I would love to see the follow up story on their experience.” Angie would be willing to lend some of her mobility equipment for the experiment, and noted that wheelchairs can be rented at Seaway Valley Pharmacy for anyone wishing to see what it’s like to navigate with one.

Amongst Angie’s observations, she has noted: 

  • One store has mats over the doorway threshold, which almost caused her to fall off her scooter in a recent visit there. Someone needed to stop and assist her.
  • A store just outside the North Dundas Township limits has a “great ramp”, but no button to open the door, meaning Angie needed to wait for assistance to get inside.
  • A business providing medical services is only accessible by stairs, necessitating that Angie wait to book a needed appointment. There is also a local store that only has stairs – no ramp. 
  • A local parking lot had no accessway designated during Dairyfest – in a wheelchair, Angie could not even get close to the building. 
  • The transition from streets to sidewalks in general is very difficult.
  • A local store has a ramp facing sideways. “Try getting yourself in position to get up the ramp hopping on crutches or turning a wheeled mobility device. I almost fell over,” Angie noted.
  • Two other businesses identified by Angie have entryways that are simply not practical to navigate with mobility aids. 

It should be noted that the names of the businesses in question have been omitted to avoid bringing them unnecessary negative publicity. Angie loves to support local. 

Angie is confident that North Dundas can do better, but feels upset at seeing how many businesses are not easily accessible. “It is dangerous and it also leads to depression from losing independence and relying on people to help,” added Angie. 

Astoundingly, 90% of Canadians believe that people with disabilities are not fully included in society, as indicated in a study released by the Government of Ontario. There is a plan for the Province of Ontario to be fully accessible by 2025. Is North Dundas on the right track? Time is ticking. 

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