Jeanne Hughes is calling on the City to improve wheel chair accessibility. Hughes has been in a wheel chair for the past 10 years and has lived in Lloydminster for the past couple of years. She says since she’s moved here she hasn’t noticed any improvements.
“It’s been rough, very rough. I’ve had two accidents with my power chair because of the curbs and there is hardly any wheelchair access anywhere in Lloyd, it’s mostly loading zones, even with the apartment buildings. Doors to the buildings are very hard to get in.”
Hughes’ power chair is her only mode of transportation and she says she is often forced to drive on the road due to poor sidewalk conditions.
“A lot of the times you can’t get up on the sidewalks because it’s too high. So you’re driving along the City and all of a sudden you’re in an area where you can’t go on the sidewalks because your wheelchair won’t go up over the ridges, the curbs and that so you have to basically ride in the street.”
Hughes says as she’s going on to curbs her wheelchairs feels like she’s going to tip over and it scares her.
Mayor Gerald Aalbers says they are working on the problem.
“We are continuously improving the existing infrastructure around the city for curbs and things like that, to make sure they are easier to navigate for people with disabilities and challenges they may have. Certainly the City has done a lot of work over the last couple of years for building entrances and things like that.”
Aalbers says part of the improvements is the downtown water main and sewer replacement.
“That can involve sidewalks, it involves the streets. That program will continue because we have aging infrastructure that needs to be replaced. We do budget money for sidewalks every year and I’m sure that will continue. If someone has a sidewalk that’s badly broke up and is deteriorated then it’s a safety concern that would become, I’m sure, a priority.”
However he says it comes down to money.
“We have a budget that we try to accommodate as many people with the resources we have but they’re limited resources as much as people are willing to tolerate with their taxes.”
Aalbers says, “if people have a concern there’s a couple different places for people to go; they can contact the city directly, there’s ‘Report a Concern’ on the website. The biggest challenge I have to comeback with is that people have to realize that we’ll take a concern and some we can address as simply as a clogged catch basin that’s not draining water, that we can fix in a very short period of time. If it’s a series of sidewalks that someone travels on a daily basis, it may be a year, two or more.”
As for Hughes, she says, “I’m hoping they fix their streets and sidewalks. I’m hoping that they will help the owners of the buildings, the landlords to make their buildings more accessible.”