Regulating Common Sense

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense” – Gertrude Stein

It would appear my rant last week regarding what constitutes a “disabled parking spot” was partially heard.  The City Manager of Parks Operation contacted me and I will be meeting with him at the parking spot on Wednesday.  In the meantime I was send another picture to show me one of the actions taken to correct this.

Revised parking spotI will deal with this Wednesday but the City did take a step.  What blows me away is that the dimensions of the actual spot remain unchanged but they turned the spot next to it into a “no parking” spot by painting the lines.  Page 25 of the provincial access standards lays out the dimensions very succinctly.  With a bit of common sense they could have saved the paint, followed the prescribed dimensions and created two “legal” spots with a 4 foot separation.  To me that just seems like common sense.

You know what is NOT common sense?  Narrow bathroomThings like passing off an apartment that may be “wheelchair friendly” as the accessible suite.  Just because you can get INTO the front door but can’t get your wheelchair INTO the bathroom does not make it a “wheelchair” suite.

There is no way a wheelchair that measures 30″ wheel hub to wheel hub will be very functional in a 41″ room.  There was a time when I would have said this with perverted pride but you can’t pole vault from a wheelchair over to that toilet.  And that grab bar you can see on the wall in the upper left hand corner, well you would need arms that are at least 38″ long to reach it (I measured).

You don’t need “code” to realize that, just some common sense.  However this is a five year old apartment building in Nanaimo that was given numerous variance’s by the local government to appease a local developer, Castera Property Management.  When you actually go looking for Castera to raise access issues you find it is property management company under the umbrella of Groupe Denux.  So who are these variance’s helping, the citizens of Nanaimo or a development company in Quebec.

Kitchen with dishwasher door open
You can’t reach into this dishwasher from a wheelchair especially when there is already no turning radius

Another things that makes no sense.  Why would you even put a dishwasher in a suite designed for one person and lose 16 square feet of space.  How many dishes can one person go through?  There is no turning radius in this kitchen to begin with so why complicate it with a dishwasher.   Personally I would run out of dishes long before the dishwasher was full so it is really wasted space to me.  I can’t even reach inside it once the door is down so what good does it do me (and I don’t think I’m alone with that thought).

With that door down I am left with a 20″ space which, no matter how hard you push, one will never squeeze a wheelchair through to get to the sink.  Am I the only one to see no common sense in that?  That dishwasher not only took up valuable (and needed) space that could have gone a long way to making this a much friendlier wheelchair environment.

Kitchen cupboards with microwave over oven
Microwave above oven (bought my own on counter) and cupboards I can reach

Continuing with the kitchen and common sense, if you can imagine reaching into a microwave that is positioned higher than me (that’s up till 8pm) you should recognize the inherent dangerous involved.  I refuse to try and reach a hot bowl of whatever when it is higher than my reach.  IF this was designed as the “wheelchair” suite someone has no understanding of health and safety issues.  So along with two thirds of the unusable cupboards I have a shiny microwave and a low end stainless steel front dishwasher that are totally useless in this situation.

Again am I the only one to see the lack of common sense on this?  I can’t quote the prices but I would suspect the developers just pissed away $800+ (between dishwasher and microwave) on optics that could have been applied towards actual accessibility.

People need to pay attention and speak out when they see regulations being ignored.  All of these “little” issues (and they add up in a hurry) happen everyday in the life of someone with a disability.  It may not be impacting you today but without a moments notice you are one blood clot away from a stroke or 30 seconds away from the wheelchair a distracted driver could put you in (if you’re lucky).  Too many people just shrug their shoulders and say “well you did your best”.  It’s not about my best, it is about standing up to what we have created.  It’s about looking past your own world and listening to those in your life who do experience these things.  When a group of young visually impaired hikers can conquer the Grouse Grind with the help of their friends then surely friends can speak up on access issues.  The tools are in place and they are in place for everyone, use them.

In closing, when I see a 20’s something visually impaired activist suggesting we need a “Charter of Rights for the Disabled” I just shudder.  We have a Charter that applies to all so use the tools that are already there, don’t go and re-invent the wheel.  I will let you know how the Wednesday meeting goes regarding the Colliery Dam Park disabled parking spaces…


3 thoughts on “Regulating Common Sense

  1. This is so very well written. I recall watching a Holmes on Homes episode where Mike designed a kitchen for a disabled woman and I was amazed at how he opened my eyes to the challenges of a wheelchair bound person. Simple things such as installing the microwave under the counter and a bucket style dishwasher that opened like a drawer. Unless people have these examples right in front of them, they will not see. It could easily be that some developer thought being able to get a wheelchair through a door meant accessible. What the person is supposed to do once they’re thru the doorway was obviously never thought about. When buildings are designed there should be a consultant used who has either spent time in a wheelchair or has had dealings with design to help out. A trip to GF Strong might be a good place to start. It’s not just kitchens but bathrooms and hallways need to be better designed. City hall needs an advocate and a mandate to stick to their word.

    I just have one other minor comment and it’s a spell check comment. You state in the article, ” I just shutter ” I think you mean “shudder” ? A shutter is on a window. To shudder means to make movement of disbelief. Please feel free to delete this if I’m wrong.

    Good luck with your parking space.

    1. Thank you Janet, by all means share. As a polio survivor I have spend most of my life fighting for one type of access or another and it saddens me to see gains made now being eroded due to complacency plus lack of common sense. Thanks for reading

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