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‘It's a continuous bump, bump, bump’: Squamish sidewalk concerns raised

District of Squamish has initiated measures to address accessibility issues.

The clickety-clack of the wheels happens simultaneously with the wince on his face. 

Robert Wright moves his electric wheelchair back-and-forth down the municipal sidewalk in front of his Shannon Falls Retirement Residence home on Third Avenue and the neighbouring Westwinds Senior Living complex. 

He is demonstrating why he—and he says other folks with wheelchairs, scooters and walkers—don't use the sidewalk. 

The bumping over the seams in the sidewalk is jarring and uncomfortable. 

"It's a continuous bump, bump, bump. It gets worse the faster or slower you go, it seems," he said. 

"It is jarring that goes right through your spine."

He says the sidewalks in the nearby Chieftain Centre are "beautiful" and smooth, but the ones right in front of the two seniors' residences aren't.  

He said that having people with mobility issues forced into the road, especially as it is getting dark earlier each night, is dangerous. 

"They have got to be able to come up with a solution," he said. 

"It doesn't make sense. All this money into the senior buildings, which are beautiful, wonderful, and then your sidewalks no one uses?"

He said he had met with District staff and shared his concerns. 

Squamish accessibility advocate D'Arcy McCrea, who runs the Squamish Accessibility Commitment Facebook page, said that he encourages Wright, and others with accessibility issues in Squamish to continue to make their voices heard. 

The town has made great strides in accessibility, McCrea said, but there is much work still to be done. 

"We were involved in the town process for the Accessibility Plan, but it's very much in the infancy," he said.

 "It takes a village, so the more voices that come to the table, through Let's Talk Squamish ... through our Facebook page, letters to the editor—whatever. That's really important. You have to keep [using] your voice. You're not lost. We need more company."

District of Squamish spokesperson Rachel Boguski told The Squamish Chief that the District constructs standard sidewalks, but is looking into what can be done.

“Through the accessibility work underway, staff are beginning to investigate how standardized infrastructure may pose barriers for those who use mobility aids,” she said.

“The District of Squamish Accessibility Plan outlines a number of goals to achieve a barrier-free Squamish. One of the plan’s goals is to highlight how the public can contribute to sidewalk maintenance, for example, by identifying sidewalk areas in need of repair. Another goal is for District staff to review infrastructure with an accessibility lens and to develop a prioritization process for budgeting for accessibility upgrades. “

She added that accessibility will also be included as a priority objective in the development of the Transportation Master Plan, which is currently underway.

If residents have feedback on the District of Squamish Accessibility Plan, or about accessibility in Squamish more generally, they can email [email protected], phone Municipal Hall at 604-892-5217 or send a letter to: 

Equity and Inclusion Co-ordinator

District of Squamish

37955 Second Avenue, Squamish, B.C.

V8B 0A3.

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