Accessibility Gathering and Walk in Beacon Hill Park

VICTORIA – People with disabilities (PWD), advocates and all candidates for Victoria City Council are invited to an accessibility gathering and walk this Sunday, October 2nd, at 2:00pm in Beacon Hill Park.

The gathering and walk are being held to highlight changes to the park that have made it less accessible for PWD, seniors, persons with mobility challenges and others who rely on cars to access public areas. 

A public walk-through of Beacon Hill Park to raise awareness of accessibility issues for PWD was previously organized by City Council candidate Susan Simmons. After receiving a “wave of online bullying,” however, Simmons decided to cancel the walk for safety reasons.  

Candidates endorsed by the new grassroots elector organization VIVA Victoria were dismayed by the online abuse of Simmons and her supporters and decided on Thursday to host an accessibility gathering and walk to draw attention to these issues.

Sandy Janzen, one of the candidates who agreed to attend Simmons’ original walk, reached out to the MS Wellness Centre President to let her know she thought it was unacceptable that online critics had bullied her to the point of cancelling the event out of fear for the safety of participants with disabilities and everyone involved.

“I contacted Susan to apologize for any misunderstanding about us going forward with the event. We want the park to be safe and accessible for everyone.” 

“We can’t allow online bullies and threats to stop those of us who support people with disabilities and accessibility rights from advocating for improvements to the park,” said Janzen.

Jeremy Maddock, another VIVA Victoria candidate for City Council, says PWD must be heard and safety in the park should not be an issue for anyone.

“I’ve been listening closely to people with mobility challenges who tell me they can’t access the park the way they used to. No one should be shut out from enjoying these public spaces and no one should feel unsafe in the park.”

“I encourage all candidates running for City Council to come to Beacon Hill Park on Sunday to support people with disabilities, seniors and others who need better access to the park via roads the City has closed off.”

The gathering will begin at the Beacon Hill Park Children’s Farm parking lot at 2pm, include an open invitation to members of the disability community to speak and share personal experiences with accessing the park, and conclude with a short walk.

Members of the public, people with disabilities, advocates and candidates are all welcome to attend. 

In keeping with Ms. Simmons’ original invitation, attendees are welcome to bring 5-10 pound bags of food to carry during the walk which will be donated to a local food bank. 

Alternatively, attendees are encouraged to make a donation to the MS Wellness Centre of Vancouver Island, the Victoria Disability Resource Centre or another PWD-supporting charity or non-profit of their choice.

VIVA Victoria