Mayor Dionne spends a day working in a wheelchair

Mayor Greg Dionne wheels his way to his office to show the media how he can handle a chair. Arthur White-Crummey/Daily Herald

When Mayor Greg Dionne sat down in his wheelchair Wednesday morning for the Chair Leader challenge, he thought it would be a smooth ride.

“When I was first asked to do the challenge, I said ‘sure, this is a neat thing to do, to see what they have to go through,’” he said. “I thought, what a great thing for me: I’ve got a ramp, I’ve got an elevator.”

But there was one thing he’d forgotten: the bathroom door.

“I have my own washroom and I can’t get in,” he lamented.

The public washrooms were only slightly more forgiving.

“You can’t reach the paper towels because they’re too high and I can’t go to the sinks because the sinks all have a board here – so I’m stuck,” the mayor explained. “I thought my belly was a problem. This chair is an even bigger problem.”

The mayor’s bathroom struggles are part of a Spinal Cord Injury Saskatchewan campaign to raise awareness and funds for people with mobility issues. Dionne said it’s made him better able to sympathize with the obstacles some residents have to surmount on a daily basis.

“What this chair does is it really opens your eyes, because we take mobility so much for granted,” he said. “When they come now to council and say ‘this is an issue,’ I’ll understand.”

For more on this story, see the May 25 print or e-edition of the Daily Herald.