Approximately 2.6 million people in Ontario have a disability, meaning that one in four Ontarians (who live with a disability) regularly face various accessibility related challenges in their everyday lives. For those who plan to visit Cornwall, however, concerns regarding public transit and accessible attractions can be a major issue, especially when it comes to wheelchair access. From locations that strive for accessibility to the overall outlook on accessibility throughout Ontario, here’s what you should consider before visiting.
Transportation and wheelchair access
For those looking to visit Cornwall, Cornwall Transit ensures that riding the bus is safe and accessible for everyone via several policies. When it comes to wheelchair access, for instance, all buses are accessible, and additional steps are being taken in order to improve various aspects of the transportation system throughout the city (such as the addition of concrete pads at more bus stops). With the integration of audio announcements to let passengers know of upcoming stops, there’s no question that the transit system is striving towards excellence in being inclusive.
It’s important to mention that while all Cornwall Transit buses are wheelchair accessible, those planning to ride the bus as a wheelchair user should take additional factors into consideration. For example, all mobility aids (including wheelchairs and scooters), should be equipped with a lap/restraint belt, which should be buckled while in the bus. Those that require larger wheelchairs — for instance, a fully automated cerebral palsy wheelchair, which can be more challenging to maneuver than a manual wheelchair, may need to take into account the size of the chair before boarding. Since the bus ramps are unable to accommodate wheelchairs that are larger than 76 cm and longer than 127 cm, knowing the measurements beforehand will allow you to come prepared.
Accessible attractions — room for improvement?
When it comes to accessible attractions in and near Cornwall, the St. Lawrence Parks Commission in nearby Morrisburg is just one worth noting. Striving to be a leader in accessibility with multi-sensory tours and wheelchair accessible horse drawn wagon rides, there’s no doubt that it’s a great place for someone with accessible needs to visit. Having won the Accessible Tourism Award at the 2018 Tourism Industry Association of Ontario Summit in Windsor, the award recognises an organisation that operates “an outstanding accessible hospitality and tourism business that complies with Ontario Accessibility standards,” highlighting its significance.
When it comes to assessing Ontario’s accessibility as a province, there is always room for improvements to be made. David Onley, a wheelchair user who was tasked with reviewing the implementation of Ontario’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act back in 2019, noted several ways in which improvements need to be made — such as in regard to physical barriers, as well as when it comes to discrimination. “This is a matter of civil rights, and people with disabilities are being discriminated against on a daily basis in multiple ways,” he says in a phone interview. Onley even went so far as to say that Ontario is nowhere near achieving a goal to be fully accessible by the year of 2025.
While there are many accessible aspects to Cornwall, Ontario, such as the transit system and attractions like the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, there is always room for improvement in terms of expanding accessibility throughout the city and beyond.