Members of the Northern Action Group and I were in the downtown core yesterday afternoon to check accessibility to each business.
A low profile report will be made on each business by the Northern Action Group. A list of concerns will be made available to the business owners in the hope that over time, and as they are able to spend capital dollars on remodelling, they will address the needs of accessibility.
The Northern Action Group recognizes the financial cost of these initiatives to the business owners and are not attempting to place a financial burden upon them that some may not be able to afford at this time. But at the same time, we want to make the public aware of the needs that exist in this community, like every other community. Those with accessible needs are customers, too.
There are over 130 people in wheelchairs in Fort Frances and almost 1,000 people suffer from some form of mobility impairment. This is almost one-eighth of the population base of Fort Frances—and does not include those in the outlying areas.
We want these people to spend their money in the downtown core but they have many barriers to overcome:
ono municipal bus;
obusinesses are not barrier-free;
ogovernment services are not totally barrier-free;
oprovincial downloading is hurting the poor, disabled and mobility impaired;
oFort Frances town council is very negative to the plight of the seniors, poor, and mobility impaired; and
oFort Frances press is negative to the plight of the seniors, disabled, poor, and mobility impaired.
We want a community where everyone cares for each other, where our seniors, poor, disabled, and mobility impaired can live an independent lifestyle, where their peace and harmony is not dictated to by a council that neither understands their plight nor cares.
We want to work with the business community and our neighbours to make it happen. That’s why we were out on the street in Fort Frances yesterday. We know we have many good-hearted business owners. If given the chance, the business community will help these seniors, poor, disabled and mobility impaired while, at the same time, our customer base that presently is unable to shop in the downtown core may help to revitalize the downtown core by shopping locally.
We know the lack of a bus service hurts the downtown core tremendously because individuals can’t get there without a struggle. Accessibility starts with transportation—and businesses must be accessible to their customer base. The downtown core has a potential to be rejuvenated, instead of losing business because a town council elects to ignore the very serious plight of our seniors, poor, mobility impaired and its rippled affects on our community.
We are willing to work with these businesses to make the downtown core the hub of business for Fort Frances.
Remember—we are only as strong as the weakest among us.
S. Mowe, President,
Northern Action Group