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Courtesy of Flickr user: iwilldreambig

Vancouver Paralympics stimulate accessibility talks

The came to a close on Sunday evening when Mayor Gregor Robertson passed the flag on to Sochi. The Games…

By Niamh Scallan , in Post-Games Report: Local politics after the Olympics , on March 22, 2010 Tags: , , , ,

The came to a close on Sunday evening when Mayor Gregor Robertson passed the flag on to Sochi.

Fans cheer on Paralympian Lauren Woolstencroft. Courtesy of Flickr user: iwilldreambig

The Games saw enormous successes and triumphs for Canadian Paralympians. Topping the list, North Vancouver’s Lauren Woolstencroft won a record five gold medals. Despite the achievements of Paralympians from Canada and around the world, enthusiasm in Vancouver during the games paled in comparison to the Olympics just weeks ago.

Whether  50 or 50,000 people tuned their televisions to Paralympic events, it’s now important to focus on how Vancouver will use its experience as host city to forward its plans. Drawing on Premier Gordon Campbell’s intent to “,” it is just as important for the city and the province to focus on a post-Paralympic agenda.

There are few instances when the issue of disability and accessibility are in the international spotlight. It is time to capitalize on the opportunity presented by the Paralympic Games and address disability and the development of accessible infrastructure in Vancouver.

University of British Columbia’s School of Social Work professor Tim Stainton studies the relationship between disability and public policy. According to an American Free Press , Stainton said the Paralympics “does make governments maybe more aware of access issues.”

In Vancouver’s case, the Paralympics have increased government awareness of accessibility issues so far. City council voiced its intention to pursue post-Paralympic initiatives last week, specifically in terms of increasing accessibility in Vancouver. Councillor Heather Deal spoke about the importance of accessibility projects.

Canadian Paralympic curlers celebrate gold. Courtesy of Flickr user: popejon2

Hosting the Paralympics “means that you have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk on disability,” Deal said to media.

The City of Vancouver’s discussions regarding plans to increase accessibility have many people optimistic that Vancouver will become a leader in accessibility in the future. Hopefully the city will view universal access as a high-priority and highly valued item on its agenda.

Much like the post-Olympic focus on sustainable transit in the city, councillors should be viewing as essential to Vancouver’s growth and development.