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City may carry out accessibility audit
No decision yet on human rights complaint over city's accessible bus system

Shane Magee
Northern News Services
Saturday, January 30, 2016

The city is looking for money in its budget to carry out an accessibility audit but details of what it could examine are limited so far.

NNSL photo/graphic

Elizabeth Portman speaks about accessibility issues during a city council meeting Monday. She sought the city to involve her in the drafting of terms of reference for a potential accessibility audit in the city. - screen capture courtesy City of Yellowknife

Word of the potential audit comes after Elizabeth Portman appeared before the NWT Human Rights Adjudication Panel in mid-December over the city's accessible bus system. No decision in the case has been issued yet.

Portman then spoke to city council Jan. 25 about things she said she couldn't get into with the panel and raised the topic of the audit.

"In the course of the hearing process, the City of Yellowknife advised that they are going to hire a consultant to do an accessibility audit of the city, which is wonderful," Portman said during a presentation.

Dennis Kefalas, the city's chief administrator, told council city staff are trying to find money in the budget for the audit.

"We'll be waiting to get the results back from the hearing before we proceed," he said.

It wasn't immediately clear what the audit would examine, whether it would look at just city property and vehicles such as buses or a wider look at accessibility in the community.

Portman, who has multiple sclerosis and filed several human rights complaints regarding accessibility in recent years, said she'd like to be consulted by the city before it writes the terms of reference for the audit.

The NWT Disabilities Council last year released the results of surveys assessing services for people with disabilities.

The report highlighted what survey respondents said are gaps in services available here and across the territory, as well as issues with accessibility in the city.

Portman raised several issues she hoped the city could address. She said those with speech or hearing impairments would have difficulty booking trips with the Yellowknife Accessible Transit System. The bus, she said, has poor shocks.

She also pointed out the punch passes or individual passes for the accessible buses are more expensive than those for regular transit.

"I feel that's discriminatory and I would like it to end," Portman said.

She also said it would help if a visitors guide included information about which restaurants or other attractions are accessible.

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