Who’s Beating A Dead Horse?

Council will once again consider the horse and carriage in the Navy Yard Park issue at its June 23 meeting. The agenda can be found on an external link, despite my requesting it be placed elsewhere and in another format.

In his May 20, 2014 report to council, shamefully, Dean Collver, Director of Community Services states, “Administration is recommending that horse and carriage vendors, licensed to operate as a business in the Town of Amherstburg, be permitted to enter KNYP for the purpose of special occasions tied to the park’s gazebo facility.”

Collver provides a background, although accessibility issues are blatantly missing. I raised the issue of accessibility in this letter, which makes me wonder if, once again, my concerns were ignored. I also emailed everyone on council, “I’m writing to express my disappointment with council’s actions regarding this matter, with the exception of Councillor Pouget. It is unfathomable that the parks department widened sidewalks to accommodate a business that was in violation with the town, yet I endured a ten year battle with the town to obtain equal access to the library, which, ironically, the town takes credit for in its annual accessibility plan as an accomplishment.”

Collver lists others consulted, which did not include a public hearing for public input regarding an exemption to a town by-law nor did it include members of the Amherstburg Accessibility Advisory Committee. I let the Committee know last fall that the horses and buggy request for by-law exemption is an example of a by-law that could have been included in the plan and should have been addressed by the committee. I never received a response.

In the council approved Amherstburg multi-year accessibility plan, Mayor Hurst states, in part, “Council and Administration, along with our Amherstburg Accessibility Advisory Committee are working together to identify, remove and prevent barriers.”

So the question is: does council intend to accept administration’s recommendation, contradict this statement and defy legislation? As I have previously mentioned, both business owners and the town are subject to the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2001 and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act 2005.

Commentary by Linda Saxon