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Vaughan man nominated for first ever Onley Award
Dec. 6, 2014
By Tim Kelly

It’s been a whirlwind 18 months for Vaughan resident Randy McNeil.

The plain-spoken 52-year-old, who has been wheelchair-bound for nearly a decade due to multiple sclerosis, doesn’t let anything stop him.

And now, due to what he would term “ass-kicking,” he has being nominated for the first-ever David C. Onley Award for Leadership in Accessibility in the Role Model category.

No shrinking violet, McNeil, who has a Twitter account that he uses to constantly remind government figures about their failure to meet Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act deadlines, is outspoken in his belief more needs to be done for those with accessibility challenges.

Back in July 2013, he challenged Metrolinx to fix a washroom at the Newmarket bus terminal that was not fully accessible for his wheelchair. He took his complaint to the Vaughan Citizen and showed proof of the problem with a picture he took himself clearly showing the door of the “accessible stall” would not close when he used the washroom. After repeated prodding by McNeil and questions from the paper, the stall was fixed by Metrolinx.

But McNeil says much, much more needs to be done, especially with TTC transit stations.

“Take Islington station. It’s a hub for Mississauga transit and many other transit links, but if you try to use it, it’s not accessible and won’t be for years. Instead, TTC is doing (accessibility alterations at) King station and other stations first. It doesn’t make sense,” complains McNeil.

He was nominated for the Onley award by the MS Society of York Region, which pushed strongly for his nomination. He also has support from MS Ontario.

“I was shocked that people nominated me for this. It’s fantastic,” said a clearly delighted McNeil on Friday, a few days after the close of nominations.

“Who knew ass-kicking could get you nominated for an award?”

The award is named after David Onley, the former Lt. Governor of Ontario, who has a disability brought on by childhood polio and has advocated strongly for those with disabilities across Ontario.

The winner of the award is expected to be announced some time in January with a presentation at Queen’s Park in May.