Access Includes Environmental
Agnes Malouf spoke with Maureen Reynolds who is an environmentally sensitive member of the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities. The committee's mandate includes "to facilitate the full participation of all citizens with disabilities in civic and community affairs" and "to work towards the elimination of physical and attitudinal barriers facing persons with disabilities" through advising Council on these matters.
AM: When and why
did you join the Advisory Committee?
AM: What do you
hope to achieve on this Committee?
Second, I would like to see warning signs indicating the presence of acetone or other strong chemical odors associated with new construction. Outdoor dryer vents, diesel fumes and, of course, pesticides are other areas of concern to many people.
Third, I would love to see some scent-free cabs; that is, cabs with no deodorizers, perfume or smoking permitted.
Another issue that may be harder to achieve would be rapid transit for environmentally sensitive people. Many are unable to take the bus because there is no way to avoid pesticide spraying on lawns which happen to be near bus routes or scents of other bus users.
Low-cost housing, particularly emergency shelters for people who cannot stay in an apartment building which is being sprayed or who for one reason or another need temporary chemical-free accommodation, is a very real necessity.
AM: Are there other
specific things that could be changed?
Outdoor smoking when groups of people are gathered at public events, for example during the Buskers Festival, is something that should be looked at. When the Tall Ships came to HRM there was a special area for environmentally sensitive people to stand to watch them, but because people did not know about it, it was not well used. My dream is to one day watch the fireworks from Citadel Hill knowing that people around me would not be smoking.
Basically I believe that everybody has the right to take part in city life - in everything that is available. Environmentally sensitive people are often excluded from libraries and other public places because protective policies are not in place.
AM: Have there
been any successes so far?
The committee had input into getting a braille printer so that HRM could translate their printed material. They also had some input into more curb cuts, buses for wheelchair users, more parking spaces for the disabled, and insuring that new bicycle racks would not interfere with wheelchair access.
AM: Were your fellow
committee members aware of the accessibility issues of people with environmental
AM: Are they sympathetic
to the concerns of people with environmental disabilities.
Agnes Malouf is a teacher and Board
member of the Nova Scotia Allergy and
The HRM Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities website is at http://www.region.halifax.ns.ca/boardscom/abilcom/spdcom.html.
Maureen Reynolds can be contacted