Tillsonburg Mayor John Lessif visited Woodingford Lodge Wednesday afternoon to speak to seniors and answer questions regarding local issues.
Concerns included the possibility of posting speed signs along Rolph Street to alert traffic to seniors in the area, as speed has been an issue in recent months, accessible transportation for seniors to get to and from doctor appointments, meetings, or shopping trips. The current condition of Veterans Memorial Walkway, which many seniors use to walk or ride along in wheelchairs, was another big concern.
“They were so pleased and happy to know that he would take time to come and listen to their concerns because sometimes they feel that they’re forgotten over here,” said Trisha Shearer, recreational aide at Woodingford Lodge. “But we are a little community within a larger community. Today, with the mayor showing up, they definitely feel that at least they’re being listened to, whether he can fix all of their issues or not, and that’s great.”
Mayor Lessif said it was a productive question-and-answer session.
“It was a pleasure and an honour to be invited to one of their afternoon social programs,” he said. “They had some questions they wanted to pose to me as the mayor, and we did talk about their issues with accessibility and how to get to shopping and doctors appointments and things like that, and also the walkway was brought to my attention a couple of weeks ago. I did on their behalf put in an activity community report on that.
“I think there’s still more work that needs to be done there, it is not the best for wheelchair accessibility. That’s a very busy walkway, and I have concern that someone might twist their ankle or have a trip if those things aren’t fixed.”
After the talk with residents, the mayor was invited to take a short ride in a wheelchair down Veterans Memorial Walkway.
“This is a pathway the residents and I use quite often and the pathway was getting holes and cracks in it,” said Shearer. “That makes it quite bumpy for the wheelchair rides, so we thought we should invite the mayor and let him sit in their spot for a nice ride down the path and see how bumpy it is. The residents wanted to invite him just so he could see what they feel in a wheelchair.
“I think the whole town uses this pathway, so it’s nice to have it in good repair.”
The poor condition was pointed out to the mayor recently, who saw to it that some of the walkway was looked at immediately.
“A week after we spoke to the mayor we went for a walk and the largest crack and area of concern, had already been dealt with,” said Shearer. “It was fixed, not to the best, but it was fixed so it was a lot better. That really made the residents pleased to think that their concerns are being heard in a timely fashion.”
While out for a ride in the wheelchair, Lessif noted from his own personal experience, and as a senior himself, he understands many of the concerns Woodingford Lodge residents have.
“My mother is 94 and has been in a wheelchair for a number of years. I can relate to it through my mother’s experience - not being able to have the freedom of coming and going as she pleases. We need to be sensitive to people who are confined to a wheelchair to get around. Fortunately there are many who are in wheelchairs that are still able to get out in the community, so the community should accommodate them wherever we can.
“I encourage not just these people here, but I encourage the whole community to be engaged, to share your concerns, bring them to the attention of our staff or council so we can address them. That’s what makes our community as great as it is.
“I’ve suggested to Trisha Shearer that we take those concerns, put them on a piece of paper and send them into the accessibility advisory committee for them to have some discussion and bring some recommendations on how we can deal with some of these issues.”