Author of the article: Megan Stacey
Publishing date: Nov 21, 2020
Nine months after its work was sidelined by the pandemic, and after losing a trio of members, a citizen advisory committeeon disability issues will have a meeting next week.
But it’s no longer good enough for city hall to just the “check the box” on disability issues, the group’s chairperson says. Instead, London needs to get serious about building a community that is accessible for all.
“We hope for the best. I don’t want to say we expect the worst, but our history has shown that has been the expectation,” Jay Menard, chair of the accessibility advisory committee, said of only its third meeting this year.
“We’re not asking to be agreed with 100 per cent of the time, but we’re asking to be considered. Right nowwe kind of just feel like we’re a check box, and what we say won’t matter one way or the other.”
The accessibility advisory committee, like most of the citizen groups that advise council, had its meetings suspended when COVID-19 walloped the region last spring.
But the long delay with no chance to weigh in on city hall decisions prompted two long-serving members of the committee to quit. One of them, former chair Jacqueline Madden, filed a complaint alleging city hall violated provincial accessibility law by keeping the group in limbo for so long.
She got a response from the province only after contacting Ontario’s Ombudsman.
“I did get an email answer, it was a form letter. They were also clear that they don’t do anything with these complaints except save them to help inform future decision-making,” Madden said Friday.