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Council nixes plan to cancel free transit passes for the blind

Blind passengers will continue to ride Metro Transit for free afterHalifax Regional Council rejected a plan to cancel the benefit.

Blind passengers will continue to ride Metro Transit for free after Halifax Regional Council rejected a plan to cancel the benefit.

For decades members of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind have been able to ride the bus for free, a practice Metro Transit planned to cancel because it was seen as unfair to people with other disabilities.

The cancellation required approval from council, who instead voted unanimously to continue the free pass program yesterday. In fact, in front of dozens of visually impaired people sitting in council chambers, council voted to expand the passes without debate.

That angered Portland-East Woodlawn Coun. Bill Karsten, who said he had important questions he wanted to ask but didn’t get a chance to because council was afraid to discuss the motion. But after the vote many in the crowd began yelling “thank you.”

“I’m glad that city council was unanimous and so quick about it,” said Duncan Williams, executive director of CNIB Maritimes. “Our clients have not got equal access to the service that they’re being asked to pay for. So until that happens it’s not reasonable to ask for them to pay for service that’s not nearly as accessible as it should be.”

In other council news, municipal officials announced they are working on a plan to fight the smell from the broken harbour solutions plant but it likely won’t be in place until the end of summer.

Officials are planning to divert wastewater flow through an existing pipe that lets out approximately one kilometre into Halifax Harbour. Many of the parts required to do this have been ordered but will not arrive until the end of August.

 
 
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