Halifax advocate wheels down Robie Street to highlight accessibility issues – Halifax
In ancient Greek mythology, Odysseus traveled for ten years to return home after the fall of Troy. On Wednesday, Brian George ended a different sort of odyssey with a seven-kilometre trek down one of Halifax’s longest and busiest streets.
“I’m starting here at the corner of Robie and Gainsborough and I’m wheeling all the way down to Saint Mary’s University,” George said.
“It really is just to show just how inaccessible this city is and how difficult it is for someone like me to get around this city when not relying on things like transit.”
Over the last two years, George has traversed 15 streets around Halifax as part of his Halifax Odyssey Tour, a project that looks to shed light on the challenges that people with disabilities face on a day-to-day basis. His route from the northern tip of Robie Street to the dead end past Saint Mary’s University highlighted several issues.
George wheeled himself backwards up several steep hills, carefully navigated crumbling sidewalks and road construction, and crossed a handful of times between the east and west sides of the street.
Although George had planned to continue with more routes, the physical toll the tour has taken on his body made him reconsider.
“I did 10 last year. This year, I did about five. I had a bunch more planned, but I’m still sore from last year. I kind of hurt myself doing Lary Uteck last year,” he said.
“So I decided to be safe [and] shortened it this year… I was in B.C. visiting some family and I decided I’m going to do one more and that will be it.”
Joined by his mother and his friend Lisa Mannet, George completed the street in just under an hour and a half.
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His mother, Faye George, says that she raised him to ignore the boundaries that his disability tries to throw his way.
“We just never taught him to see the boundaries. So we’re very proud that he takes that upon himself to fight not just for himself but other people who maybe struggle with a disability as well,” she said.
“I think for Brian, even his everyday life here in Halifax, like working at Home Depot, you know, moving around the city, people see him moving and so they think, ‘Well wow that’s great. He’s not just sitting in his apartment after work doing nothing. He’s out and about.’ And I think that makes people even more aware.”
While this might be the end of the official Odyssey Tour, George says he will continue to fight for greater accessibility in Halifax.
George is planning on doing the Blue Nose half-marathon in June and says he might even revive the Odyssey Tour as a yearly Halloween tradition.