North Bay Still Waiting for Parabus Improvements

Author of the article:Letter to the Nugget editor
Publishing date:Jun 21, 2022
Letters to the editor

It has been two years since the North Bay Accessibility Advisory Committee told the municipality that Parabus is the top priority for people living with disabilities, yet we have seen no action.

To qualify for Parabus, you must be unable to climb stairs or walk 175m, which is unacceptable. Nowhere in our provincial legislation (i.e., the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and the Ontario Human Rights Code) does it state that you only have a disability if you’re unable to climb stairs or walk a certain distance.

For many people with sight loss, the conventional transit system is inaccessible. There are many crossings leading to bus stops on busy highways without accessible pedestrian signals. If the crossing doesn’t emit a noise to let someone know when pedestrians have the green light, people may think it’s safe to cross and walk out into oncoming traffic.

Without stop announcements on the bus, passengers may not know when it’s their stop and risk being dropped off in an unfamiliar location.

Many destinations that can be reached by public transit also present barriers due to a lack of sidewalks and other landmarks that aid safe navigation.

We have seen the emotional devastation and social isolation that occurs when someone is denied access to the Parabus because they can physically walk an arbitrary distance. As others actively participate in their community, people with sight loss are forced to stay home. Without access to transit, they’re unable to pick up groceries, visit friends and family, attend medical appointments, and travel to and from work.

After years of empty promises and inaction, enough is enough.

The City of North Bay needs to improve the accessibility of conventional transit and update its flawed Parabus eligibility criteria so anyone who truly needs it can travel within our city safely and independently.

Tanis Boardman

Program Lead, Recreation, Sport, and Accessible Community Engagement, Ontario Northwest

CNIB Foundation

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