Victoria City Council, advocates push province for accessibility legislation


WATCH: Critics say B.C. is falling short when it comes to legislation guaranteeing accessibility to people with disabilities.  Ceilidh Millar reports. 

Crossing the street or opening a door are daily activities most people take for granted.

However, for the more than 600,000 British Columbians living with a disability, these seemingly simple tasks can be a daily struggle.

“Often you know the specific places in the city where you can go to be comfortable,” explained Steve Bertrand, who was born with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.

Bertrand is a member of the City of Victoria’s Accessibility Working Group, a task force established to provide input and solutions on improving accessibility.

“We try and champion acts of accessibility for the city” Bertrand said.

On Thursday, Victoria City Council passed a motion to push the provincial government to implement a B.C. Disabilities Act.

The legislation would outline a set of laws to guarantee accessibility for people with disabilities in areas that can be regulated by the provincial government.

These include areas such as city streets, parks, playgrounds, public transportation and workplaces.

Ontario, Manitoba and Nova Scotia are the only provinces in Canada to pass similar laws.

“The province has accessibility goals but without a law the actions are not being taken,” said City of Victoria Councillor Jeremy Loveday, who brought the motion forward to council.

“We want to make sure that we’re not creating new barriers when it comes to things like infrastructure.”

Bertrand says their committee has endorsed a set of principals outlined by Barrier-Free B.C.

“What we’re trying to do is just bring education and awareness to everybody that might not necessarily be disabled or have that experience, to understand what other people go through” Bertrand explained.

Twelve years ago, Chris Marks became a quadriplegic after a car crash.

Marks, who is also a member of the city’s Accessibility Working Group, said legislation would also help with long-term planning.


“Accessibility is not just about someone in a wheelchair,” Marks explained.

“If we live long enough ,we’re all going to experience a disability at some point. This is literally planning for our future.”

Both advocates hope to start a conversation about making Victoria, and the entire province, ‘barrier-free’ for all.



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