Gurneet Grewal speaks to Abbotsford council Monday, with assistance from Arlene Schouten. Grewal was joined by Linda Loewen and Shuan Baumann. The three are members of the MSA Society’s Self-Advocates Group.

Abbotsford’s buses & sidewalks pose difficulties for those in wheelchairs, council told

Self-advocates urge council to improve city facilities for those who use wheelchairs

The City of Abbotsford’s buses, bathrooms, sidewalks and recreation facilities are often hard to use for people with disabilities, council heard Monday.

Gurneet Grewal, Linda Loewen and Shawn Baumann urged the city to ensure that people like them – with disabilities – can use city buses and public buildings.

The trio, who are members of the MSA Society for Community Living’s Self-Advocates Group, appeared as a delegation to council Monday to mark the International Day of the Disabled.

Grewal told council that his day program uses city buses, but that the scarcity of wheelchair spaces means some are left behind. He also said bus drivers need to be kinder to those with disabilities.

Some sidewalk entrances to roads can also cause wheelchairs to tip, Grewal said. He added that Mill Lake Park’s washrooms “should be more accessible for larger wheelchairs.”

Loewen and Baumann shared similar concerns.

Baumann urged the city to increase the availability of HandyDart service to allow users to attend evening activities.

Loewen said more should be done to make sure the doors to public buildings and small businesses are easier to open. Some aisles in stores are too narrow for people in wheelchairs.

Loewen also said affordable housing is a concern for her and her peers, as is the need for jobs.

“People with disabilities are reliable workers. We don’t complain much, we rarely call in sick, we are on time and work hard,” Loewen said. “We deserve ‘equal pay for equal work.’ I think the City should encourage more businesses to hire people with disabilities.”

Mayor Henry Braun thanked Grewal, Loewen and Baumann and said their comments provide important insight into what needs to be done for people with disabilities.

“I’m sure our staff have taken note of some of the comments that you have made and the things that maybe we haven’t thought of as much as we ought to,” he said.

Mike Kelly, the city’s senior transportation manager, later told council that staff are working on a plan to improve service for people in wheelchairs and with disabilities.

“We have already worked with BC Transit and are working on solutions for exactly what that delegation was [bringing] up,” he said.

While staff work on those plans, Kelly said the city and BC Transit would use the feedback to see what can be done in the interim to make Abbotsford’s buses more accessible.

“We are trying to provide service for everyone, so if we’re falling short, if there’s something we can do, we want to explore that,” Kelly said.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

Blue ribbons popping up along streets in Abbotsford in praise of B.C. healthcare workers

Healthcare worker’s family starts local trend of morale support

Abbotsford Agrifair’s 2020 event still in the works

Fair will respect COVID-19 health directives, but continuing plans in hope ban will be lifted

Learning after spring break: more details from Abbotsford School District’s superintendent

Parents to receive call from teachers next week, asked to conduct survey to tailor learning needs

Abbotsford’s Mandarin Garden Buffet offering free food to those in need

Chinese food restaurant providing free fried rice or chow mein to those struggling during pandemic

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

B.C. Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic

Ferry corporation says ridership down 70-80 per cent over the last week and a half

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

‘There is community’: B.C. councillor welcomes new baby into world amid COVID-19 pandemic

‘I realize there’s much more than fear and worry… there is hope, there is new life’: Jason Lum

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

Most Read