Duncan’s Joyce Munn is concerned about the city’s streets and sidewalks and how accessible they are for people in wheelchairs and on scooters. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Duncan’s Joyce Munn is concerned about the city’s streets and sidewalks and how accessible they are for people in wheelchairs and on scooters. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Sidewalk safety prompts petition

It was a case of unfortunate timing.

Joyce Munn was fed up with the lack of accessibility within particular areas of the City of Duncan and she felt her concerns were being ignored by city officials.

Having written to councillor Sharon Jackson, who chairs the Duncan mayor’s advisory committee on disability issues, and receiving no prompt response, Munn felt compelled to start a petition and step up her activism by writing a letter to the Citizen.

The day before that letter made it to this reporter’s desk, Jackson reached out to Munn.

Jackson had been ill, she explained, and as soon as she saw the letter she picked up the phone.

“I had a long conversation with her,” the city councillor said on Friday. “I’ve been sick and I should have called her a couple of weeks ago before she went to the trouble of getting the petition going.”

Jackson confirmed Munn’s letter was immediately forwarded to public works and they’ll be looking at the area she has identified as being the most troublesome spot.

Her particular problem is at Allenby Road and Government Streets where there is one ramp up onto the sidewalk that’s in the middle of a parking spot. If a car is parked there, those in wheelchairs and scooters and those pushing strollers have to go along the street instead.

“That is a very dangerous situation,” Munn said.

The epic winter didn’t bolster her confidence in sidewalk safety either, with snow and ice accumulating on the pathways and nobody in any hurry to remove it.

“For four months I was even afraid to go most places,” Munn said. “I’m deadly serious about this being really bad. They’re really that treacherous.”

Along Trunk Road and Government Street, one of the spots Munn highlighted as hazardous, things are about to change as crews are currently digging up the sidewalks to bury utilities.

“Hopefully we’re going to get rid of a couple of those big polls smack dab in the middle of the sidewalks, which are insane, but it’s like I explained to her — Duncan is facing what cities and towns all over North America are facing, which is that our streets and our roads and everything were all built 60, 70, 80, 100 years ago and they’re all starting to fall apart at once,” Jackson explained. “We have a five-year plan and we decide this year we’re going to fix this road, and this year we’re going to fix that sewer line…and so we have to, by law, have a plan, but if there’s something urgent coming up then there’s nothing to stop us from changing that plan.”

Jackson and Munn are planning to go for a walk together this week or next.

“I really want to walk with her because she says she’s very frightened and I don’t blame her,” Jackson said.

Munn is looking forward to it, and even has a wheelchair or a scooter if Jackson would rather take some wheels.

“I just want to get the damn streets fixed and I haven’t much hope for that,” she admitted.

Jackson is more optimistic.

The Duncan mayor’s advisory committee on disability issues does a semi-annual walk-about around town to identify, prioritize and remedy trouble areas and those with potential to be dangerous for those with mobility challenges.

“All of these things need to be noted down and fixed,” Jackson said. “I was very glad that she’d gone to this trouble.”

Almost all the people Munn has talked to during her signature gathering have a story about almost tipping over or being afraid of a certain corner, she said.

As such, even with the assurances by Jackson that she’s being heard, Munn plans to keep going with her petition, which already boasts more than 200 signatures.

“There’s tons more places I could go,” she said. “Surely If I handed over more than 200 signatures….”