Sooke’s accessibility and inclusion challenged

Sooke can be a dangerous place for mobility scooter users

A few seconds after this picture was taken

Concerns over safety of mobility scooter users

 

One of the most distressing things that happen when people get older is they lose things like their mobility and for many that is also a loss of their independence.

Bill Jones and Carol Mallett came before the District of Sooke council on February 10 to talk about mobility issues in Sooke, in particular for those who use mobility scooters. They wanted to start an awareness campaign so that everyone knows of the issues faced by those who use scooters.

“We are giving Bill Jones a voice,” said Carol Mallett. “He started using a scooter because he wanted to go further than he could walking.”

What he found was Sooke is not very scooter friendly.

In their presentation, they outlined how “liberating” mobility scooters were for people who are unable to walk or walk any distances, are partially or totally paralyzed or unable to drive a car. They said people in those circumstances still want to be able to visit friends, shops and be independent.

Mallett outlined five essentials for a good quality of life and they are: survival, love and belonging, freedom to choose, control over self and fun.

“As you get older you lose all those connections, you lose them bit by bit,” said Mallett.

“You should see the joy on people’s faces when they get on a scooter for the first time.”

Mallett said that in 2008 Sooke held a accessibility challenge where people tried to navigate through town in wheelchairs. From that experience came a number of ideas and recommendations for making mobility easier. She thinks the District ofSooke should dust off the report and consider instituting ways to make life easier for those with mobility issues. This isn’t just about people on scooters or in wheelchairs said Mallett, it’s also about parents pushing strollers and people with walkers.

She said those folks from Ayre Manor who use scooters run the risk of falling or tipping their scooters over because of the uneven condition of the sidewalks, obstacles at business premises, curbs, doors, fences or guard rails and crosswalks that lead to deep ditches.

Dangers are everywhere and Mallett and Jones just wanted to point out areas which could be improved for the safety of everyone.

They asked the district to help by removing or remediating hazards, running an awareness campaign to communicate rules for use of mobility scooters and make the public aware of the challenges of rising scooters and including a checklist for accessibility built into designs for future development.

Mallett said the report was favorably received by council and it was now time to act.

“If you make a town good for people with disabilities, you make a town good for everyone,” stated Mallett.

The report can be viewed at: sooke.ca/wp-content/uploads/Sooke-Accessibility-Inclusion-Report