Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ontari ari ari o - The Home of New Human Rights

Here We Go Again

The Huntsville Forester reports of a new human right here. It seems that the mayor and council of Huntsville are concerned that the intersection of Brunel and Main streets is properly accessible to all people using it, including the disabled, so they are looking into the alternative approaches to take to ensure that accessibility.

However, there is a particular position that is being taken by one interest group:

But Vision Impaired Peer Support group (VIPS) representative Marcia Cummings says the better answer would be to run audible pedestrian crossing signals at these intersections constantly.

“We’re the user group VIPs that need these signals,” said Cummings. She had first approached council back in September to run the audible signals non-stop at the two busy intersections.

Okay that's one idea. But, here comes the hammer:

Cummings, who was born blind, says constant audible signals are a basic human right. She says visually impaired people shouldn’t have to stop to push an activation button, reorient themselves with the intersection, and then cross.

A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT - constant audible signals. I looked up the UDHR, and the human rights codes of Canada, and couldn't find it there. I didn't see anything about this human right, nor that having to push an activation button was in direct breech of this right.

Well, guess what council did with her basic human right. You guessed it. They caved in - at first.

Council agreed — at first. It passed a resolution to support the continual operation of the chirps and cuckoos used to guide blind people across the street.

Following complaints about the constant noise, it rescinded the motion last month, passing another resolution that requires push-button activation, but still keeps the signals operational 24 hours a day. The decision was in line with the policies of several other Ontario municipalities, said town representatives. Before all this, the signals were push-button activated and turned off at 11 p.m.

As the mayor said logically:

He said the noise from continuous operation of the signals had health implications for some residents. The town received about 20 noise complaints in the two weeks the signals operated non-stop.

In addition, he said, lining up the Brunel intersection will make it easier for people to cross. “I think this is a good tradeoff .... Everybody’s interests have to be respected here,” he said.

Thank you mayor - everybody's interests have to be respected.

But, it ain't over till the fat lady sings - I'm not sure that Barb Hall qualifies as FAT, but I mean fat, as in she who will be heard.

Yale and Cummings aren’t so sure.

The couple is not ruling out contacting the Ontario Human Rights Commission and is meeting with district representatives on Thursday to discuss the issue of audible signals.

Barb and her Herd of Rabid Clowns are getting Roxinante out of the barn and ready to ride on up to Huntsville to save the day for poor, beleaguered Ms. Cummings. She'll probably trailer her steed up to the town gates, and then climb aboard for the triumphal ride to City Hall. She should call ahead to be sure that they are not occupied with more serious business, when the sun, moon and stars are aligned as she sees fit.

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