Just over a week before its grand opening, an absence of accessible parking at the Royal Alberta Museum is drawing the ire of disability advocates.
The new museum has no public parking on site, including for those with disabilities. Its website directs visitors to several accessible parkades nearby.
Bean Gill, who was crowned Miss Wheelchair Canada this year, told Global News on Sunday the decision not to include accessible parking sends the message that people like her aren’t welcome.
“The message being sent here is that people with disabilities don’t need to be out and about. They don’t need to go see the museum, they don’t need art, they don’t need culture, they just need to be isolated in their homes like they have been for the past 50 years, and to me that’s unacceptable,” said Gill, who is also the executive director at ReYu Paralysis Recovery Centre.
The Office of the Minister for Seniors and Housing and Infrastructure in Alberta issued a statement to Global News on Sunday pointing to accessible parking spots nearby as well as a vehicle drop-off area at the museum. The statement read: “We want to make sure that all Albertans can access their new provincial museum … We welcome further discussion and conversations on this topic and will be reaching out to this group to see how we can make the museum more accessible.”
With winter approaching, Gill said mobility issues for those with disabilities will only increase.
“We’re heading into the winter months,” Gill said. “Everything’s going to be covered in snow and ice. The snow removal in this city is lacking, and they love to pile all the snow on top of the curb cuts.”
The Royal Alberta Museum closed in 2015 after almost half a century in the community of Glenora. It’s set to open in its new downtown location on Oct. 3.