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May 3, 2016

Who's the Freeloader?

Am I the only person who finds it just a tad ironic that councillors are worried about aggressive panhandling on Spring Garden Road when they've just had their municipal pockets picked for $16.6 million by aggressive shopkeepers?

I'd be first to admit that Spring Garden (except for the library) is an eyesore, with plenty of vacancies, cluttered sidewalks, and high end eateries like Timmies and McDonald's.  But demonizing panhandlers is right out of the Trump playbook.   A deke to the far right.

Merchants have let "Atlantic Canada's premier shopping street" decline so it looks more like Dresden in 1945 than Rodeo Drive.  They are the authors of their own misfortune.

I'm baffled that this giveaway doesn't involve even a token contribution from merchants.  HRM has already signaled their willingness to cut corners by "using standard curb and gutter instead of granite curbs and normal intersections instead of raised intersections".  It'll be nice, but not as good as it could be.  In the Council meeting of April 26, I heard about putting the arm on the Province and hustling the Feds, but not a whisper about cost sharing with the direct beneficiaries of the project.

As compensation for years of inconvenience, the Nova Center is expected to cough up $200,000 for the Argyle component of the project. Less than 3%.  An insult really.

Meanwhile, we've identified the real culprits - a few women and men who should remind us of our obligations to the less fortunate.  Mayor Savage, who I am growing to like, had the good grace to say  "We have to deal with aggressive panhandling but I have no interest in criminalizing poverty."
Watch yer step!

But what annoys me as a taxpayer is having to foot this bill while some storekeepers get away with maintaining inaccessible premises.  The real freeloaders here are Jennifer's and Le Coq, who hide behind the 'historic building' exemptions and do not serve nor employ people with disabilities.

And if you don't think job discrimination affects you, just remember that you pay around $10,000 to support every person with a disability who can't get a job.

So my wheelchair and I are paying for:

  • a staff report that doesn't consider us 
  • about a project that doesn't benefit us
  • to help merchants who discriminate against us
  • and who blame their own failings on panhandlers
This is a textbook example of a project that needs a formal review and signoff from the viewpoint of accessibility.  Not the usual HRM nod and wink; a chapter, not just a paragraph; done by experienced and qualified professionals, not self-appointed "experts"

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