Written by: Donna-Lynn Wiitala on March 20, 2012.
THUNDER BAY – Editorial – On January 1, 2012 the Customer Service Standards of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) came into effect for the private sector. This means that persons with disabilities are thankfully able to enjoy an increasing amount of access to businesses in Thunder Bay. We are very pleased with the efforts being made!
However, for visitors requiring special accommodation, our city is still lacking. We are currently hosting the National Wheelchair Curling Championships. Unfortunately there are only a limited number of accessible hotel rooms and we cannot offer even one of these athletes a room with a roll-in shower.
Imagine you are one of the athletes. You’ve curled hard all day and all you want to do is take a hot shower and relax in your room. But your only option for a shower is to travel somewhere else to take one.
Because of these deficits, some people cannot visit our city. Not only is this embarrassing for Thunder Bay, we incur a loss in tourism revenue as well. We have a lot to offer as a city. More accessible hotel rooms would allow us to capitalize on this. We would definitely have a better chance at being chosen to host other events, such as the National Sledge Hockey Championships if we could provide for our visitor’s needs.
In 2008, PUSH Northwest developed an accessibility package for hotels and motels. During this time, we went to the management of every hotel and motel in person and invited them to a workshop on Hotel/Motel Accessibility. Unfortunately, we have only seen small gains in hotel/motel accessibility.
PUSH is still available to do accessibility audits to inform businesses about the AODA. It is our hope that our hotels will address the issue of accessibility in order to become more compliant with AODA standards.
PUSH Northwest wishes all of the wheelchair curlers an enjoyable visit to our city and hopes that this great event will help us to learn to be even more accommodating for future events and visitors.
Chair, PUSH Northwste