Take Part!

Take Part logo - take that written in a speech bubbleI’ve never be afraid to give my opinion – whether you ask for it or not! Luckily, asking for opinions is becoming more common as different parts of our government seek to involve the public in decision making.

For disabled people, it’s crucial that we take part in these opportunities, whether they are aimed at just our community or, perhaps more importantly, opportunities that are aimed at everyone, so that the ideas of disabled people are included.

In Kelowna, the city has a page for citizens to “Get Involved” . On here, a wide variety of projects can be found – and taking part is as easy as sending in a question or completing a survey, or perhaps you could volunteer for a working group or a committee. For example, I completed a survey about street furniture for Downtown Kelowna. For me, it was important to say that the furniture should be constructed in such a way that I can drive up to them and be part of the group that are sat there. Some furniture layouts mean I can’t get close to Ian when he’s sitting there! Another area I took part in was to ask if the project to pilot a off leash dog beach would include wheelchair mats – because if it doesn’t, I can’t walk my dogs there. Hence, it’s important to get disabled people’s issues included in wider conversations.

One consultation that’s still open, until November 12th, relates to downtown parking. If that is something that concerns you, take part at this link.

Provincially, the NDP government wants to reinstate the BC Human Rights Commission. A quick primer: Each province has Human Rights act, and a mechanism to hear complaints against the act. In BC in 2002, the BC Liberal government removed the Human Rights Commission and replaced it with a Human Rights Tribunal – making BC the only province in Canada without a commission. But what’s the difference? A human rights tribunal simply hears individual complaints and rules on them, acting after the fact, whereas a human rights commission works proactively to educate to prevent discrimination from taking place as well as supporting those with complaints.

Consultation for this is taking place now! It’s important for you to give your views. Join the conversations!

The Federal government has taken steps to deliver on its goal of ‘open government’ by using its website to describe its aims.. By following the link to ‘open dialogue’ , you can see all the projects that the Federal government is currently asking for your views on. A  currently available discussion asks for your views on how open government will function from 2018 to 2020. It is important for the views of disabled people to be included in the plan going forward.

Disabled people are often invisible. Spaces are not designed for us, physically or socially, and we often feel unwelcome and therefore stop participating. Giving input and reminding those who are in positions of power that our views matter is not only easy to do, but crucial to creating actual change going forward.

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