Is it right that Translink (Vancouver’s Rapid Transit System) makes Burrard Station Inaccessible?

I live in Vancouver, BC and was reading the local 24 newspaper a few weeks ago and stumbled across an article, maybe a quarter of a page wide, warning transit users that Skytrain’s (Vancouver’s Rapid Transit System) Burrard Station would be closing down elevator service. They did not give a very detailed end date, only mentioning that, effective September 26th,  2011, the elevator would be inaccessible at that station. TransLink claims that the elevator at this SkyTrian station will be closed for approximately four months due to the construction of fairgates at the station.

Faregates are 1.3 metre tall structures with paddle-style turnstiles that will be installed at every station in the system over the next year and a half. That means a total of 400 gates, of which 150 will be wheelchair-accessible. These gates will enable TransLink to better prevent people from riding the train without paying for it. Although I can understand TransLink going the way of most other subways by installing turnstiles; I do not understand why accessibility has to be restricted for this to happen.

I realize that our SkyTrain system is not without its flaws, and is regularly broken down in some respect (over five times in the ten years I’ve used it). My primary concern when I read this article was the fact that it made no mention of what might happen in the event that a wheelchair bound individual needed to be evacuated. Only on their website does TransLink mention that “Passengers requiring assistance are to pick up the red emergency phone or speak to SkyTrain staff.” However it doesn’t really say what the SkyTrain staff will be able to do to help. I can’t really picture them hauling a power chair up two or three flights of stairs. So what is their plan of action? Is there one? This has been poorly communicated.

Not only did TransLink give little warning that this closure would be occurring, they also gave elevator users a rather poor solution of boarding the train using the elevator at either Waterfront (at least a 5-10 minute wheel from Burrard), or Granville (same distance). This isn’t a totally unreasonable solution, still I do feel that it should have been handled a little better. It seems as though individuals who are affected most by this closure were kind of sidelined in the pursuit of “progress”.

The communication could have been much better. For instance, it is still unclear why the operation of the elevator needs to be stopped because of the installation of turnstiles. Caitlin (a dear friend of mine who is in a wheelchair) only found out about this closure by looking up at the scrolling announcement screen while waiting for the SkyTrain. I just hope the estimated four months of construction doesn’t take any longer, and that the elevator which many people rely on can be used again as soon as possible.


Garaventa Lift has lost our Dear Friend Jack

It is always difficult losing a pet; however it has to be even more difficult to lose a service dog after 12 years of friendship, spending every moment side-by-side. One of our own Garaventa Lift family members, Paul Bryan, had his service dog Jack pass away last week. Jack’s health was deteriorating and was no longer able to enjoy life. He was laid to rest on Wednesday, September 28th.

Jack was born in 1997 and began his service with Paul Bryan in 1999. He took Paul all over British Columbia, pulling him through even the most inaccessible towns. Paul Bryan is in a wheelchair, needing Jack for assistance with difficult terrain and opening the odd door. Even after Jack had become too old to serve, he still went everywhere with Paul as a companion. Paul said “I try to leave him at home but he’s not use to it, so I still take him even though he’s no longer working”.

PADS (Pacific Assistance Dogs Society) dogs are trained to not be left alone at home for more than four hours at a time from an early age. All volunteer trainers and dog sitters have to commit to taking the dogs everywhere, and are required to provide written permission from their employer to ensure this happens. Pacific Assistance Dogs are life changers, providing assistance to people with a number of disabilities. They can make a huge difference to people and their quality of life. To learn more about PADS visit


PADS - Pacific Assistance Dogs Society

PADS - Pacific Assistance Dogs Society


For the month of October we will donate $1 for every Facebook like to Garaventa Lift on Facebook in Jack’s Name to the Pacific Assistance Dogs Society.

Jack was a wonderful dog, very friendly and loving; he will be missed by all of us, and most of all by Paul.

If you have a story or a few words of support for our good friend Paul, please leave a comment and know that the message will be passed along.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Author unknown…

Robyn Sparkles takes a leap of faith for a cause

On September 13, after raising 2,100 dollars for Easter Seals in just over a week; our own Robyn Robertson plunged down a 20 story building for charity. She said the trip itself only took a little under four minutes but it felt like over an hour as she repelled downwards. When she returned to the office she sent out a thank you including this wonderful quote describing her experience:

 Standing at the edge of the building and looking over 200 Ft below, the words nuts, crazy, insane were just a couple of the thoughts going threw my mind. While repelling down, all I kept on saying was: “Oh my god!” What I thought seemed like a life time as I went down, turned out to be only about 4 minutes.  When I finally touched the ground, I could hardly move let alone stand: Then I looked up and saw this young boy looking at me saying THANK YOU!  All my fears were gone and joy simply took over including some tears…

 I believe that going over the side of that building; I wasn’t amazing and certainly wasn’t even brave.

 The Children and Adults that we all did it for are the real brave and remarkable individuals.

Thank you to Robyn for taking on this endeavor and all of the contributors from our Garaventa Lift family and everywhere that helped Robyn make this goal become a reality. It was truly an amazing cause and I hope to see more of us take action the way Robyn did in the future.Robyn's Leap of Faith

Change starts with us.