"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

~ Niccolo Machiavelli, historian and writer

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What's Up Your Sleeve?

It looks like the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities might have been put to good use in Nova Scotia this past week.

I've said before that, in my opinion, the best use of that Convention might be in the moral suasion if offers advocates when dealing with government officials. At all levels of government, apparently.

At least that's the way I read the news that Bridgewater has agreed to change its zoning bylaws to allow LaHave Manor Corp. to open a new group home.

In case you're not familiar with the story, the LeHave Corporation intended to purchase a property that was felt to be ideally-suited for use as a group home (single level, wide hallways, open living room and wheelchair-adapted), particularly for three individuals that have lived together for over 18 years. The plan was for these individuals to move together to this home.

Well, that was the plan until neighbours started complaining and the town of Bridgewater decided that the property couldn't become a group home because it violated zoning bylaws. Zoning bylaws that allow for what's known as "low density residential housing". More commonly known as single family dwellings.

Apparently, the Town viewed three people living together in the community as an "institution". Which means that either the Town of Bridgewater has even less of a concept of what community living means than the Dept. of Community Services or they simply didn't want to upset the sensitivities of their good citizens who are more ... sensitive.

At any rate, what I found most interesting about today's new story was these comments from the Town's press release:
"Bridgewater prides itself on being an inclusive community and as such wants to incorporate the intent of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities," the release said. "We acknowledge that the rights of disabled persons are equal to the rights of any other person in our community."
Which makes me think that, in additional to the groundswell of public support from across the country, someone did some smart advocacy work by pointing out to the good Council that, like all levels of government in Canada, it, too, is bound by Article 9 and Article 28 of the UN Convention.

A handy little document to have up your sleeve, no?

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