By Victor Schwartzman
February 3, 2014
This column will be a moving experience. If not for you, then at least for B.C. Budd, because he actually is moving. He was renting and the house will be sold. Not that B.C. Budd will dwell in this column on his personal situation, even though he must rip his lovingly built nest to bitter shreds. In Manitoba, he could afford a house; in Vancouver, he rents. No, B.C. Budd is a professional! He will not allow his personal situation to seep into his journalism, including asking if anyone has a flatbed truck February 21.
All of which leads for reasons which may become clear to B.C.’s Government, which recently began a series of public meetings to learn about access issues. And to Vancouver City Councilors, who held a meeting to hear public feedback on a housing access issue. And, not to dwell on it more than once or twice, to B.C. Budd’s move–into housing access reality.
The townhouse complex B.C. Budd’s moving into was built by the Lions decades ago. It consists of two story side by side units, with a few sections were reserved for people who have disabilities. Those suites are spread out over one floor, with the ground floors reserved for people with mobility problems. B.C. Budd, who is not disabled but is on a pension and is elderly and on heart meds and has a double stent and three pairs of glasses and frankly you do not want him to get started about his teeth, will have a top floor suite.
As B.C. Budd packed, the city councilors heard public feedback on a city staff report. The report recommended supporting a Vancouver Coastal Health proposal for a new long term residential care institution. Two old institutions are past their due dates: Dogwood Lodge and the George Pearson Centre, respectively for people with dementia and severe physical health conditions.
VCH proposed some form of independent living units for 94 of the George Pearson residents. That was fine. But the new institution would house under one roof Dogwood residents, who have dementia, and 37 George Pearson residents, who do not.
None of the 27 public speakers agreed with the proposal.
One by one, each speaker denounced a philosophy that saw George Pearson and Dogwood residents as the same, and that there should be a foothold for a long term residential care institution for people with physical disabilities. Presenters spoke directly to decision makers. The decision makers listened and asked questions.
Meanwhile, back in Provincial Government Land, the Province had already begun its own version of getting public feedback on access issues. Based on a roundtable attended by one of B.C. Budd’s buddies, about one hundred people will attend each of the Province’s sessions. After some generic speeches, attendees break into small groups and give their ideas on access to each other. Then they type it into a computer. There is no reporting back to the general group, no decision makers to hear a presentation. People at one table will have no idea what concerns or ideas on access any other table provided.
What happens to those concerns and ideas? Apparently the Government sucks in the suggestions and then something is done with them somewhere somehow by somebody or someone at some time in some place or so some say.
Perhaps if Christy Clark wants useful feedback on housing access issues she could phone the Lions and catch up on a couple of decades of reality. Arranging proper housing is not difficult or expensive. Or maybe she could refer to virtually identical “studies” the B.C. Government already conducted in 2005 and 2007.
But back at the Vancouver City Council: guess what? The councilors voted to send the report back! The combined long term institution proposal was, in effect, shot down! Public feedback on access worked, and more power to those who spoke and the Councilors who listened.
And it got better! Vancouver Coastal Health heard and, to its credit, caved. Now the 37 Pearson “beds” will no longer be included in the new Dogwood Lodge. In fact, those “beds” will no longer exist! VCH is now committed to no institutional care beds for Pearson residents, but to instead create independent living units with supports.
Quite a week–it would be better if some of you helped with the packing, by the way–but a very good week indeed.
Next: Access Valentines! Or Mike Hammer Investigates What Happens to B.C. Feedback! Your Choice! Vote! Is Anyone Still Reading? Hello? Mom?
Victor Schwartzman contributes this weekly satiric column to Accessibility News nothing in these columns is true except what they are about. His graphic novel (where each chapter is one issue of a community newspaper) is serialized on the great Canadian lit site, http://www.redfez.net. He also contributes a monthly poetry review to http://www.targetaudiencemagazine.com, has had poetry and short fiction published, and has edited novels. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.