Well it is Sunday and time to finish the adventure story. Having made all of the necessary decisions, given my notice at work (which worked out well because Medi-Chair really needed a full time person in that position) and given my notice for my condo in Calgary I began to focus on finding a place in Kelowna. I had given a good two months notice to all those affected in Calgary so I figured I had lots of time to find something in Kelowna. Of course doing this long distance and depending, in part, on my mothers involvement I figured it would be pretty straight forward. So I began checking in early August to find a place for the October 1.
Fortunately my mom has a few younger friends (actually when you are 86 most of your friends are younger) that could manage to take some phone photo’s and e-mail them to me. She does know some people who have smart phones and are use to taking pictures of their grandchildren for e-mail purposes. This came in quite handy as I was not about to drive six hours (one way) to check out apartments. With that said I am sure you will recognize how dependant I was on other peoples interpretations. I supplied my mother with a list of criteria that I was hoping could be met as closely as possible.
Some of the things I didn’t mention were things I take for granted. Things like my preference for a concrete building versus a wooden one. There are two main reasons for this: 1. you cut back on sound absorption and 2. occupant insurance is a little cheaper in concrete rather than wood. I am already experiencing the joys of the two year old above me playing bouncy ball or mom/dad playing catch me if you can but make sure you stomp your feet. I don’t believe it is done with any malice but this is the same suite that called the manager with a noise complaint on my first night here as I set up my stereo. That turned into a non-issue. When a place is pretty empty echoes happen!
Carpets were something that were never really discussed except to say I prefer carpet to linoleum. With that said I never thought to mention what kind of carpet. This is something many people don’t put a lot of thought into when choosing a place to live but for a wheelchair it does make a difference. One of the issues in the 70’s was shag carpets. They are a bitch to push a wheelchair around on. My preference is a good strong flat weave which is what I wound up with.
The first apartment I found that I really liked because it was a quite affordable two bedroom. That extra bedroom was a bonus which is why I contacted this person. It was all done through e-mail and after a couple of exchanges she decided she “couldn’t in good conscience rent a 4th floor condo to someone in a wheelchair”. Her rational was fire danger. Now first of all it is highly illegal to refuse to rent to someone because of a wheelchair. If I were so inclined I could lodge a human rights complaint but that is no way to start off a landlord/tenant relationship. Besides I thought these battles had been dealt with 30 years ago. Apparently I’m wrong.
The second component of her concern (and I have no reason to believe she had anything but good intentions) was the ability (or inability) for me to get out in the event of a fire. What she didn’t realize was early in my career with the BC government I worked in the Office of the Fire Commissioner and that any place with a “city” status had to have at least one fire truck with the ability to reach eight floors. Again I will only tackle so many battles at a time and this particular one just didn’t match up to my timing. No sense in starting off a renters arrangement with a potentially hostile landlord.
Again there are differing understandings of what “accessible” means so after three other debacles I finally settled, as it turns out, on the one I am sitting in. Two main selling points here considering I was about to accept a place unseen. My mother knows how important kitchens are to me and this kitchen is huge. I love to cook and I am predisposed to that prairie farm thinking where the hub of life is the kitchen. As I said this kitchen is huge. lots of cupboards, a large dining area, living room area and bedroom allowing for a lot of wheeling room. I can do a 360 degree turn anywhere in this place except the bathroom and walk-in closet. Yes I have a walk-in (actually through) closet that connects my bedroom to the bathroom. With that said my wheelchair won’t fit through the doorway so its a kneel through closet now.
This is a panoramic view of the living room and dining area taken from the doorway to my patio. Yes I have a patio that is easily accessible however fire regulations do not allow bbq’s. The kitchen would be to the right of the dining area. You can just catch the edge of my TV which is the wall separating my bedroom/bathroom area from the rest of this place. It’s a corner suite with the fire exit stairs on the opposite side of me so no neighbours on either wall, just above me.
October 24 my new sofa arrives and will go where those two single chairs are so people will have places to sit. So for now welcome to my new home and realize it was rented sight unseen except for a few camera phone shots. One thing I forgot to mention, in-suite laundry side by sides in a room large enough to do a wheelchair square dance.
Just one man’s opinion.