I just had the honour and privilege to participate in the 25th Anniversary of the Rick Hansen’s Man in Motion Tour that came through Summerland last week.
Rick Hansen’s journey changed the way we looked at our Parks and Recreation facilities especially here in Summerland.
When I carried the medal into the more than 700 people waiting at Dale Meadows, it brought back memories of an amazing Arlie Young.
Arlie was a true difference maker here in Summerland. Even though confined to a wheelchair for much of his adult life it did not stop him from anything. He was a great Dad and who can forget his daughters growing up being wheeled around on his electric wheelchair?
Many times he mentioned how Summerland’s great Recope program was a big part of extending his life. He was their treasurer and on their board for more than 16 years.
But in addition to Arlie being a very good friend, he became our Parks and Recreation Department advisor in making our facilities accessible, especially at the Aquatic Centre. A big deal was made about the new handicapped accessible doors installed at the pool in the early 90’s. I remember Arlie coming into my office as the doors were being installed and wanting to show me something. He proceeded to show me that even with the new doors he couldn’t open them. After a heated argument with the handicapped doors company we finally added a large plate (that are now standard,) instead of a small button. Without Arlie’s expertise we would have reopened the Aquatic Centre but not achieved our goal which was total accessibility.
Today we still use the plate recommended by Arlie.
Arlie continued to advise our department on all accessibility issues until his passing a few years ago. Arlie was a true difference maker and he will never be forgotten as his legacy lives on. Even as we speak the new playground being installed at Dale Meadows Park will have many accessible components so it can be used by everyone.
Dale MacDonald has been Summerland’s Director of Parks and Recreation for the last 22 years and in his sporting past has won provincial championships in four different sports.