Provide your input: Renfrew/Rupert Station Area Plan

Do you live or work near Rupert or Renfrew Skytrain stations in Vancouver? If so, the City of Vancouver is starting a new area plan around the Rupert and Renfrew SkyTrain stations and they would like you to provide your input by attending an on-line workshop on June 27 from 10-11:30 am. A $40 honourarium will be provided. They will also offer ASL and closed captioning.

To determine if you live/work within the relevant zone, please see the map below, which generally shows the area between Nanaimo and Boundary, and between 1st Ave and 22nd Ave.

The Renfrew Rupert Station Area Plan is a policy document that will shape the short and long-term growth in the area. The area plan will help to:

• Advance reconciliation
• Add new housing options close to transit
• Make it easier to walk or roll through the area
• Protect Still Creek and manage flood risk; and
• Support job growth.

The City of Vancouver are interested in hearing about your experiences in the neighbourhood (what is special, what is missing, what services do you use, what areas are problematic, etc.). They will have a group mapping activity as well as a questionnaire. The City of Vancouver will provide some material in advance of the workshop, such as questions for discussion and more background information on the area plan.

Disability Alliance BC is helping to organize participation in this workshop. The City of Vancouver and Disability Alliance BC respect the privacy of interested participants and wish to assure that any feedback received during the workshop will not be connected or recorded in any way so as to identify any specific person.

If you would like to attend, please email feedback@disabilityalliancebc.org with the subject heading: “Rupert and Renfrew Workshop” and include your name and mailing address, which will be used to mail your honourarium after the workshop. If you are unable to provide a mailing address, Disability Alliance BC can arrange to have your honourarium picked up at our office in downtown Vancouver.

A maximum of ten participants will be selected to join this workshop. Only selected participants will be contacted for further details.

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Article: Looking "Too Good" To Have a Disability

This article was written by Michael Todaro, and originally appeared in DABC’s Transition magazine on Disability Justice (Spring 2022). Read the issue here.


In the year that I was applying for my Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation, I have to admit I did a lot of soul-searching. 

I knew I wouldn’t be taken seriously. Apparently, I looked great, as people never stopped telling me. 

”You don’t know how good you have it,” said one friend, and others told me it was “all in my head.”

The reality was I was lethargic, could barely walk or talk most days and, as a rule, I didn’t sleep. My pain levels were unbelievably high day and night. I was 20 pounds underweight, anxious, depressed and suffering from post-traumatic stress. The circles under my eyes were permanent and made me look like an unimpressed raccoon. I was dizzy all day long.

On the day of my appointment with the doctor who would evaluate me for PWD, I got dressed and tried to look my best. I had been taught that if you wanted to be taken seriously, you have to dress well, so I was determined to make the best impression I could.

Are you laughing yet?

Because my pain levels were so high that day, it took me three hours to get ready. The morning routine for a person living with chronic health issues can be debilitating. Taking a shower, washing hair, getting dressed— all of these things take time and energy and, when you have neither and are in chronic pain, it makes for a rough day.

On this day, I was proud of myself because, despite wave after wave of pain, I was able to get it together and even looked pretty good to boot! In retrospect, I guess I looked too good. “Dressing for success” clearly doesn’t work if, as a result, the doctor thinks you are faking your disability.

When I arrived at the doctor’s office, instead of his usual friendly self, he scowled at me from behind his desk. I waited, watching this change in his demeanour.

After staring at me a few minutes, he said in a rage, “How dare you come into my office looking that good and expect me to help you with your disability application!”

In spite of being a well-educated doctor who had treated me for 14 months, he thought I looked too good to have a disability. To be honest, I had not been interested before in displaying my disability. I had kept it hidden. So he was surprised when I stopped hiding it.

His behaviour was pretty shocking. But it’s something that people with less visible disabilities face every day.

It’s true that people can sometimes be cruel, but, if we are kept ignorant and unaware of the needs and experiences of others, how can we be expected to know what to do? As a group, people with disabilities will remain vulnerable where this kind of ignorance prevails.

I don’t believe the onus of responsibility for creating space for all people with disabilities lies with the uninformed public. It lies with the governing bodies and services we use. These are the organizations which have yet to champion legislation that supports and protects people with various types of disabilities.

Our signage on BC buses, for example, often reads like a suggestion: “Please remember who these seats are for.” I think this is misguided and, in my experience, not that effective because not every person or culture views disability with compassion. By comparison, a sign in the US reads, “Disabled use only, $300 fine.” A clear message with a clear consequence.

It is time for all of us to do better for people living with invisible disabilities. London, England has found one way to do it. If you need to sit down on public transit, you can order a button that identifies you as someone who needs a seat.

People are not asked to justify their disability to receive a button. An education campaign told the public they were expected to offer a seat to someone who wore the button. TransLink could easily spearhead a similar program here in BC.

This takes the burden off the person with a disability to explain, each time, why they need a seat! Not everyone is always up for or well enough to fight that tiring battle.

I think this is an excellent approach to dealing with invisible disabilities while traveling because it legitimizes a person’s needs in the minds of those who might find fault with them. This also helps to remove anger from the equation, and focuses on a sustainable solution for people who do not look like they have a disability.

For passengers with a disability who are often not believed or taken seriously, a small change in the way we do things in BC could ensure the safety of people with visible and invisible disabilities.

References

CDC: Lupus Symptoms https://www.cdc.gov/lupus/basics/symptoms.htm
Please Offer Me a Seat at the Transport for London government website: https://tfl.gov.uk/transport-accessibility/please-offer-me-a-seat

Michael Todaro is an editor, writer and instructor living in the Vancouver area.

Letter to Canada Post about DTES service suspension

A number of legal advocacy and peer organizations, including DABC, have written to Canada Post management about the harms caused to some DTES residents by the suspension of service to two blocks along East Hastings Street.

Read the letter here: https://www.pivotlegal.org/dtes_organizations_write_to_canada_post_about_harm_of_service_suspension.