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Construction making bus stops inaccessible for those with disabilities

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The human rights committee at Winnipeg City Hall is looking at ways to improve access to bus stops when construction is taking place for riders living with disabilities.

Though road construction season is over for the most part, every year when it ramps up it weighs on bus rider Scott Shabaga's mind.

Shabaga lives with a permanent spinal cord injury.

He says when barricades go up around bus stops or the stops themselves are moved, it can be exhausting and time consuming navigating the situation.

"I don't really even know sometimes what stop to go to, where to get off. You know you go to a bus stop and then you see well this ones out of service, where's the next one that I can get to," he said.

Following a ride along, Coun. Markus Chambers saw first-hand the obstacles bus riders living with disabilities are up against, including those who are visually impaired.

"There's no notice to persons who are visually impaired that construction is happening there, and where the temporary stop is located," said Chambers, who chairs the human rights committee at city hall.

Chambers now has a motion in front of the human rights committee, asking the city's administration to report back on the measures in place to make bus stops in construction zones safe and accessible.

He wants notifications on when and where construction is taking place and bus stops that are being rerouted.

"It jeopardizes the safety of those individuals to walk into an open construction site or potentially miss the bus if they're not at the right location," Chambers said.

David Kron, executive director of the Cerebral Palsy Association, says communication improvements are required, even for the sidewalks leading to the bus stops.

“You get to the end of the block, it’s under construction. You've got to go all the way back, cross the street and cross again. I’ve even seen it where both sides of the street, both sidewalks are under construction, then you have to go up the street,” Kron said.

Shabaga agrees and would like to know what awaits him when he heads to the bus stop

"If I knew ahead of time what I was up against, if I had to change my route I would like to know that ahead of time," he said.

In a statement, the city said it would need to review the motion first, and would not be able to comment before submitting a report to the committee.

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