Many city sidewalks make wheelchair use difficult, dangerous, Regina woman says

·3 min read
The 2200 block of Robinson Street in Regina currently has three unfinished sidewalks in a row. (Tory Gillis/CBC - image credit)
The 2200 block of Robinson Street in Regina currently has three unfinished sidewalks in a row. (Tory Gillis/CBC - image credit)

A Regina woman says the condition of many sidewalks in the city makes travel for her and other people with disabilities both difficult and dangerous.

Terri Sleeva says she travels around the city "with great difficulty on many occasions."

"It's either construction or winter seasons," she said. "Both have barriers that I find extremely difficult to overcome."

While she believes the city is doing the best it can to make things more accessible, Sleeva says there are still many places she can't go to.

Recently, she says, she went to a meeting at the police station and found the sidewalk adjacent to the disabled parking stalls difficult to manage.

"There's a fire hydrant right beside the designated parking spot, the parking spot had bricks, it had ruts — it was extremely difficult to get through," she said. "And that's a city-owned and -operated location."

Gordon West/CBC News
Gordon West/CBC News

Sleeva says there are many areas in the city where she feels unsafe, worrying her wheelchair may tip over due to poor sidewalk and ramp conditions. There have been times when she has had to turn her wheelchair around because of dips in the sidewalks.

"When you're paralyzed you're in a wheelchair for a reason, and the difficulties that little things like [sidewalks] that you might not think very significant" are to a person in a wheelchair.

Sleeva points to a bridge near her house in Uplands that had work done on it a few years ago. The sidewalks were completely repaved and she said the city "did a beautiful job."

However, the bridge remains unusable due to a steep drop.

"To go down that is horrible," she said. "This is after they've done all the work.

"When people complain, they complain for a good reason — that things need changing, and I think that should be a priority," she said. "I know there are places in Regina that are like a Third World [city] for crumbling sidewalks and such.

"For people with disabilities, how do you get out?"

Gordon West/CBC News
Gordon West/CBC News

City needs to prioritize accessibility, councillor says

Sleeva says the physical barriers faced by people with disabilities need to be acknowledged by everybody so those in positions of power can address the issue.

"Until that's done it's not equitable," Sleeva said. "We're not being treated as equal. You're left at home and you can't go out … there should be more access."

Coun. Andrew Stevens (Ward 3) told CBC's Morning Edition he understands people's complaints about sidewalk conditions and wants to see the issue addressed.

"I look across my street at two sidewalks in a serious state of despair due to water main breaks," he said. "There's basically an open pit in the sidewalk. It's not uncommon, I certainly see it."

Stevens says there is a backlog of 1,300 service requests that the city has previously said it aims to complete before 2023.

The issue is not new and "goes back ages," Stevens said.

"I don't think we prioritize sidewalks the same way we do roads," he said about both the municipality and the community. "Pedestrians, transit users and cyclists, I think, are an afterthought.

"It shouldn't be, it needs to be the bread-and-butter concern of city council."

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