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Pilot project aims to open Paradise to all

By Chris Lewis | July 8, 2021

A pilot project in the Town of Paradise aims to help residents with disabilities get around town more easily.

The project, one of the goals in Paradise’s strategic plan, was announced Tuesday, June 29 at the Double Ice Complex.

People who want to take advantage of the Accessible Transit Pilot Project will have to apply for participation in the program and demonstrate a physical, visual, sensory, or cognitive limitation that has been assessed by health practitioners at Body Quest Health and Wellness Centre, which will be covered by the Town.

Once registered and approved, residents can avail of services provided by Newfound Taxi, with the Town covering the cost of cab fares within Paradise’s boundaries. Those looking to travel outside Paradise will only have to cover the portion of the ride outside the town limits.

The Town has set aside $50,000 for the project. Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Laurie said the town worked with the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities to design the initiative.

“Over the past several years, we’ve seen an array of new businesses come to our town, and with this service, registered participants can now support local,” Laurie said.

The Town also reached out to residents, particularly those involved in a focus group related to the project. Among them was accessibility advocate Cindy Antle, who was on hand for the announcement.

“Paradise has become fully open to us,” said Antle. “We can now access new shopping areas, the supermarkets, the pharmacies, doctors, the Double Ice Complex here, and everything else Paradise offers. We can do that independently or at least with limited assistance… Paradise is making such great strides to become an inclusive community where all the residents can participate.”
Antle also noted the Town’s recent application for funding to buy accessible picnic tables.

“Staying home, isolated and unable to have the social interactions we all need is no longer a barrier – once COVID-19 is finished of course,” Antle said. “Hopefully, Paradise will feel some economic benefit too as we get out and make our purchases in this town.”

Antle is hoping the program will move beyond a pilot project and become permanent.

“We must use this accessible transportation and make this pilot project successful,” she said. “It’s a system that can be built on to provide access to other cities close to us. But that’s a focus for other advocacy on my part.”

Application forms can be found on the town’s website.

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