What Happened That Night Broke Her: Dying Woman’s “Goodbye Visit” to Peterborough Ends in Disappointment

Downtown BIA, accessibility council working to educate restaurant industry on disabilities By Bill HodginsReporter
Wed., Aug. 17, 2022

Peterborough’s DBIA is currently looking to address issues with the province’s Accessibility Act following an incident at a downtown restaurant during the August long weekend.

It was supposed to be her goodbye visit to Peterborough, but a dying Waterloo womans journey here during the August long weekend ended in tears and disappointment when she was denied service in a downtown restaurant.

Ben Revoy says their server immediately assumed she was intoxicated, and his attempts to explain the situation went nowhere.

His wife has some history with the city. She went to college and university in Peterborough and while living here, she worked at a local golf course.

It was always a special place for her. When we got married, she shared it with me, and it has become our place.

Revoy says his wife hasnt shared her diagnosis widely and asked that her name not be published. She doesnt want people to find out about her illness this way.

She has had some health issues for several years but recently her illness has amplified many of her symptoms.

She’s got fibromyalgia,” Revoy said, which is obviously not life-threatening but that creates a lot of chronic pain issues.

It has also affected her balance. But more seriously, shes been diagnosed with pyloric stenosis, a congenital disorder that narrows the stomach opening. It has meant multiple surgeries and theyve taken a tremendous toll on the 43-year-old woman. Revoys says she has weeks maybe months to live.

He had business here that weekend and she insisted on coming along. It was to be her goodbye visit to the city, he says. They spent time at some of her favourite haunts, but as the evening passed, they knew they had to get a bite to eat.

Part of her disability makes it hard for her to eat during the day, Revoy said. Her illness has her at 90 pounds, down from her typical athletic 125 pounds. She is literally clinging to life. She cannot maintain her hemoglobin or sodium levels, leaving her unsteady on her feet.

She avoids eating for much of the day because of the pain, Revoy says. But she knows she still needs sustenance.

We spent a while walking much of the downtown, taking breaks where needed for her to rest and taking pictures she wants to leave me with lots of happy pictures when she is gone.

She was tired and weak, so he helped her to her seat and waited for a server to make their order. He says the server refused to help them, explaining that his wife appeared to be intoxicated.

What happened that night broke her, he said, leaving her in tears.

Revoy, who is an accessibility advocate back home to the point of teaching courses to businesses on compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, says he tried to explain the situation to the establishments staff but felt they just didnt want to listen.

He says hes angry with the people he dealt with that night, and hes since filed an incident report with the city. Hes hoping by going public with his wifes experience, more businesses in the area will take the time to read the act and educate their staff on compliance.

Mark Buffone, accessibility compliance co-ordinator with the City of Peterborough, told Peterborough This Week he was aware of Revoys experience here and acknowledged that businesses need to be aware of the Act and its regulations.

He said hes been in touch with Downtown Peterborough BIA executive director Terry Guiel in recent days and the issue is going to be addressed in the next BIA newsletter.

Theyre going to try to get something out in their newsletter, which I think goes out next week, Buffone said. Terry said it’s challenging because in that industry, there is a lot of employee turnover.

Buffone said his mandate focuses primarily on city-owned and operated facilities as opposed to private business. In those cases, people are encouraged to work on issues with the business owners.

But more and more, were getting this type of feedback. Sometimes, he says, its just a complaint about a step into a business with the suggestion to do something about it.

The report from Revoy was a little more unique.

I’ve never had someone submit feedback about being misinterpreted as being intoxicated. However, I did note to Terry that in the past year I’ve had two people tell me that their biggest fear in having a disability is having people think that they’re drunk.

He says one of those messages came from a person who has visual disability, but you wouldn’t know it at first glimpse. But they sometimes, you know, sort of stumble over things and they don’t use a white cane don’t have a guide dog.

The other came from someone with something akin to multiple sclerosis. They have little difficulty walking and sometimes stagger.

He says Revoys incident is a good reminder for businesses to educate people that you cant simply judge someone on their appearance.

Buffone says Connect Peterborough currently has a survey open on its website (https://www.connectptbo.ca/accessibilityplan) to gather input ahead of the citys upcoming update to its accessibility plan. Submissions are being accepted to Aug. 31.

Original at https://www.thepeterboroughexaminer.com/local-peterborough/news/2022/08/17/what-happened-that-night-broke-her-dying-woman-s-goodbye-visit-to-peterborough-ends-in-disappointment.html