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Seniors feel cast off at the ballot

When Lilian Ramsuchit learned voting in the mayoral election might mean pushing her walker for 50 minutes round-trip, she threw up her hands and said, “Forget that!”

When Lilian Ramsuchit learned voting in the mayoral election might mean pushing her walker for 50 minutes round-trip, she threw up her hands and said, “Forget that!”

“I wouldn’t go fall over in the road just to vote,” she added. Ramsuchit, 59, just had double knee surgery. She also has breathing problems.

So do her friends Sonadai Mukhlall, 69, and Reuitia Chawharja and Kusm Hamid, both 71. The women are longtime residents of Lotherton Pathway, a community just off Caledonia Road. It contains thousands of potential voters, many of them low-income seniors who don’t have a car.

In previous years, the women have voted on the main floor of a local building. Now they have to walk to Joyce Public School, about a half-kilometre away. The advance polling station, at Glen Long Community Centre, is even farther away.

City spokesperson Carole Boughannam explained the poll was moved because of stricter adherence to the province’s Election Act, which requires clerks to ensure all voting locations are accessible to electors with disabilities.

The required changes would include: Barrier-free path of travel from the parking lot/sidewalk; barrier-free parking; where parking is provided, door operators or accessible doors; and adequate lighting. Boughannam said the Lotherton Pathway complex did not meet the accessibility criteria.

Josh Colle, who’s running in the local ward (Ward 15, Eglinton-Lawrence), says the city has left many seniors out in the cold and is “hiding behind wheelchair accessibility.”

Colle said this “amalgamation of polls” is a problem he’s been seeing across his ward. He doesn’t buy that there aren’t enough suitable locations.

“I’ve had store owners falling over me to rent their wheelchair-accessible storefronts,” he said, adding, “It seems like the city is doing everything possible to not entice people to vote.”

 
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