January 06, 2015 - 8:42 AM
KELOWNA – For many residents of Kelowna, the massive snowfall over the last couple days has been more than an inconvenience.
Dino Padula, a wheelchair user and the owner of Active Mobility Products in Kelowna says this much snow virtually cuts off many people with disabilities from normal activities like grocery shopping and other daily chores.
Padula says the situation is especially difficult for those who don’t have anyone to help clear their way.
“If anyone is alone they aren’t getting out of their house,” he says. “Anybody who is power chair- or scooter-bound are stuck at home. There are guys who use mountain bike tires on their chairs but if you’re in a manual wheelchair the front casters are only four or five inches tall. If the snow is six inches or more you’re not going anywhere.”
Making things worse, on Monday, HandyDart, a public transit service for people with disabilities, had to suspend all non-essential medical service.
One employee called the suspension "very unusual", and said she couldn't remember it ever happening before.
“Buses are getting stuck and it’s a safety concern."
Local taxi companies are also so inundated with calls that they too have had to prioritize their pickups. This means that for many people with disabilities, they have to rely on friends, family and, if they’re lucky, neighbours.
“For anybody that uses any kind of disability assist, whether it’s a walker, cane, whatever, snow is not our friend,” Padula says.“If you’re alone, hopefully you have a neighbour willing to give you a hand. If not there’s nothing you can do.”
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