It can be hard enough on a spirit to be trapped physically in a body shutting down from MS, then confined to a wheelchair for limited mobility. It’s another to try to get around in Regina while in that wheelchair. Our city’s tireless mobility activist Terri Sleeva last night invited me to attend an upcoming transit meeting with provincial and municipal representatives. I hope I can make it, even though it means taking time off from my paid work.
Terri has worked for years longer than I have, at trying to convince the municipal government to improve accessible transportation options in our city. That it’s taken until 2014 to get fair fares for accessible taxi cabs is a sign that our city government is moving too slowly. It’s even so bad I’d describe it as our Mayor playing chicken with the provincial government, while people in wheelchairs wait and suffer the problems of immobility. Apparently he’s not the only mayor in Canada to be doing this.
Terri Sleeva says accessibility is especially bad during the spring months
Reported by Courtney Mintenko
First Posted: Mar 13, 2014 2:23pm
When Terri Sleeva sat down in her wheelchair 15 years ago, she began to learn how inaccessible the city of Regina is for people with mobility issues.
Sleeva was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1984. She now fully relies on her husband and other family members to assist her with virtually everything. But when it comes to getting around Regina, Sleeva sometimes finds herself blocked and having to turn back.
“When it was snowing, it would be so slippery,” Sleeva said from her home Thursday morning. “You just don’t get around very easily and it takes twice as much time.”
The challenge doesn’t end even as the weather warms up. Sleeva said the freeze-thaw of spring leaves ruts her wheelchair can’t manage.
“There’s no suspension on a wheelchair, mine doesn’t have (any). And it’s just bouncing around. It’s horrible.”
In front of her own home, Sleeva’s husband helps guide her motorized wheelchair through the shovelled sidewalk, but even the ridges left on the side of the path leaves Sleeva unstable. As her wheels turn and she sways back and forth, she often tells her husband ‘I’m going to tip’ or ‘Oh god Ken, I’m falling.’
“Going to meetings—I do a lot of meetings—and if it’s not accessible, I end up going home,” Sleeva said.
She tries to attend many meetings as the chair of the Regina Citizens Public Transit Coalition that fights for better transit services for those in Regina’s disabled community. Sleeva said she went through a five-year period of depression when she first began using her wheelchair. Now she’s determined to make a difference for those with mobility issues and make sure their struggle is known.
“I would like to see a better system where people are given the opportunity for mobility in the various forms…our aging population needs to have certain things addressed when it comes to mobility. And until that’s done, we’re just going to continue the way we are. And it could be so much better.”
Please join Terri and I in improving mobility in Regina so people aren’t trapped in their homes or in ruts when they leave their home. Write your MLA and ask they restore funding to Paratransit in cities like Regina, and to come up with a provincial transit funding strategy like other provinces have. Our do-nothing City Council has washed their hands of responsibility so contacting them will simply have them ask you, “Have you talked to the province about this?” to which you should respond, “Why, will they be as useless as you’ve been for solving this, or do you recommend their services because they are more capable at managing Regina’s transportation system the City Council is responsible for?”