Re: Lisa & Meliah

Dear Mayor and Council

Congratulations on your new roles. I wish you every success.

I am writing to you in regard to my friends Lisa and Meliah, two Spirit Orcas and Victoria Special Olympic Athletes. I am asking that in your new role you help them.

My partner and I take Lisa, Meliah and our friend,Ben, for dinner every few weeks. It is an activity we all enjoy. After dinner our routine is to bring Lisa and Meliah to the #14 bus stop on the 1200 block of Yates and then bring Ben to the bus stop behind the Legislature. Lisa waits with Meliah until the bus comes and then she walks to her home nearby. 

The freedom to move throughout the city has been paramount to Lisa, Meliah and Ben’s independence as adults. Without this they are often homebound, and at the mercy of parent and caregiver schedules. Being able to move freely throughout the city has meant they can goto work, plan their own activities, and meet with friends based on their schedules not someone else’s. It has also provided relief to family members who are called upon to help their adult children navigate the world.

On Friday, October 28 around 8:00 PM Lisa and Meliah were waiting at the #14 bus stop. The#11 stopped and the bus driver kicked a man off the bus. The man proceeded to harass Lisa and Meliah, taunting them. They asked him to stop and attempted to walk away. He followed them continuing to taunt them. They felt threatened a she got closer. They yelled for help several times, as loud as they could. The man continued to get closer, reaching out to Meliah who turned around and put her hand up yelling STOP! STOP. 

One of the residents from a nearby building came out and escorted Melaih and Lisa to safety in a building lobby. We are so grateful to this person.

Lisa called her mom and Meliah called me so we could come to rescue them. They were terrified to leave the building. They could not tell if the man was still nearby lurking in the hedges. I will never forget the look of fear on their faces when I arrived. They were so afraid to leave the building. As soon as they did, they hugged each other and began crying, sharing how afraid they were. I escorted Lisa safely home while Meliah waited with my partner. We then took her home.

I have been coaching Special Olympic athletes for over 10 years. It is only recently that I am hearing of incidents like this, with this being the 3rd that has directly impacted the athletes I coach. One of the incidents was a fairly serious physical assault. We do not know what would have happened had someone not helped Lisa and Meliah.

It seems unreasonable to me that people with disabilities cannot move freely throughout the city without fear of being assaulted. There is clearly a public safety issue in Victoria that needs to be addressed. I am actively working with Lisa and Meliah to help them work through the trauma this caused. The first step was to file a police report, which they have done. Our next step is to find out from you, those who are in charge of our city, what steps you will be taking to restore the freedom and ensure the safety of Lisa, Meliah and others with disabilities in our city.

Susan Simmons

12 thoughts on “Re: Lisa & Meliah

  1. I spoke to a client this morning about her Double GST Credit, issued on Friday. I explained that is was ONE cheque, not multiple ones. I mentioned that The Bay Centre and Market Collective were giving away 100 $10 Gift Cards this morning at 10 AM. Her response was she does not feel safe going downtown, even in the day time. She is 48 years old, living with disabilities, living in BC Housing.

    • Fin, I am very sorry to hear this. Everyone should feel and be safe moving through our city. It is disheartening that those who once did no longer do. I feel we are moving backwards when it comes to PWDs and access.

  2. I do not feel safe down town. I have physical disabilities and if some one decided to accost me, I don’t know what I would do. Yes, everyone deserves the right to be down town and feel safe. People are working hard to be independent and I hope the new council will focus on that. Let’s make everyone feel safe while shopping, walking, being downtown.

    Carol

  3. This is unacceptable.
    My 9 year old son hates going downtown Victoria so we just don’t go anymore. The last time we went and parked at the Parkade there was needles everywhere and just people hanging around making everyone uncomfortable. Recently when we were in Vancouver visiting we drove through the rough part of town and it was sobering. In Vancouver the situation on the streets is unbelievable and shocking, when I first moved here to the Island was nothing like that. I don’t blame a lot of people for being uncomfortable going to town and sadly a lot of altercations have taken place. I don’t know where to start to try to make things better but I would hate to see Victoria End up as bad as Vancouver. I grew up in North Vancouver so I didn’t see how bad it was, One of the hardest things to deal with is my sister who is a heroin addict living downtown Victoria as far as I know on the streets but I can never get a straight answer, it’s devastating. I’m so very sorry this happened to two innocent people and just hope that they are OK. Sorry I totally went off on a bit of a rant there but there was a lot To say.

    • Unfortunately, the people in Vancouver have been giving people on the streets a Free One Way Ferry Ticket and Bus Ride to Victoria, as a way to get rid of them. Each time a Hotel gets purchased by the City to give people on the street a safe place to live, more street people arrive in Victoria. It’s Vancouver’s way of cleaning up the streets, by sharing those people with other communities. Many of the Victoria Police have quit their jobs, and now work in Quieter places like Brentwood Bay, and Sidney, so the Victoria Police Station has posted a Big Sign on it, saying they are Hiring. But not many Police who come here, stay here. Victoria was once a very nice place to walk downtown, with lots of small stores. But Lisa Helps decided that was a waste of space, and let big companies build massive Condo Buildings. Remember how Fort Street used to be called Antique Row, with lots of little Antique Stores? But now they’ve all been forced to move, so their stores can be knocked down and more Condos can be built. It’s slowly looking More and More like Vancouver! No wonder Kelowna got chosen as the Best Place to get Married, as Victoria has Lost it’s Charm!

  4. This is the reason that we needed a Mayor and Council that care about our safety of anyone in our City. This kind of fear has to stop, and the first thing they need to do is get rid of Our Place. That is the biggest reason why a lot of this town problem. You let these out of towner homeless people here 80% of them are not even from Victoria. They closed down places where people with mental health issues would live and be taken care of. There thought doing this that it was in humane to keep them safe and looked after. The biggest problem in Victoria is the homeless that is the issue that needs to be dealt with so that Victorians can feel safe again. The new Victoria Mayor is just as worse as the last one if not more.

    • Let’s just Hope the New Mayor doesn’t think like Lisa, who felt Bike Lanes are what the city needs! She never asked the Public for their input. She just gave the Go-Ahead to turn the Bus Stop lanes into Bike Lanes, like on Yates Street.

  5. Sorry to hear this happened. I do not go downtown alone as I have a physcial disability and I would not be able to get away fast. When I first moved to Victoria from Alberta it was nothing like it is today. I was able to go downtown even in grade 6 so like 13/14 years old. Now even little children with adults are being hurt for no reason at all. Victoria needs to clean up the streets and get the bad people and the people that do drugs off the street and far away from the city as possible. I really hope as I do not know who the new mayor is but I hope they are way better than the last one we had. This city and people need to feel safe agin and same with people witn disabilities

  6. I too have a disability and don’t feel safe leaving my apartment. In fact, I was even assaulted by my next door neighbour so I barely feel safe in my own place. Lots of drunk kids screaming all night that make it hard to sleep too.

  7. Living with a Disability is Challenging, but fortunately my size (over 6 ft tall) makes people back away from me, which in turn makes it hard to meet friends. If anyone wants to go out somewhere, I’ll gladly take you, able to relate to challenges in society. The best part is knowing you’re not the only one going through it. So don’t ever Hide Away! I used to be in the Special Olympics until I had problems with my legs, but if you ever want to go Jump in a Pool somewhere, let’s go! I have a Nice car with a Wheelchair Carrier on the back.

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