Nova Scotia

Disabled tourist can't rent accessible van

A wannabe tourist says he cancelled his visit to Nova Scotia this summer because he couldn't rent a wheelchair-accessible van.

A wannabe tourist says he cancelled his visit to Nova Scotia this summer because he couldn't rent a wheelchair-accessible van.

Mike Mansfield, an Ottawa resident, has used a motorized wheelchair since he suffered a stroke in 1999. He needs a specially equipped van with a ramp.

Mansfield was looking forward to a trip to Black Point a few weeks ago to visit an old friend in her new home, but he couldn't rent a suitable vehicle.

"I think the car rental companies are not in existence in Eastern Canada, and that's a bit disappointing," he told CBC News.

Mansfield and his friend Janice Lardner discovered that not one company in Nova Scotia rents wheelchair accessible vans.

"When we started to look into how he would get around here that's when we found out about the car, and the fact that we couldn't rent anything here," she said.

Advocates for people with disabilities say this is a particular problem for summer tourists.

"They are looking for accessible transportation, which if they are looking for a van specifically that is accessible, there is nothing available in this province for them to rent," said Darrell Robar, with the Canadian Paraplegic Association in Nova Scotia.

Robar said there are few alternatives for travellers with disabilities, and all of them are expensive. Modifying his own van to accommodate a wheelchair cost $15,000.

Several national car rental companies contacted by CBC News said they cannot make a profit on these vans.

O'Regan's said it tried to rent vehicles for two summers but found there was no demand outside the tourist season. Each van cost nearly $60,000, the company said.

Lardner said it's one spoiled summer vacation for her friend, but tourism sites in Nova Scotia are losing out too.

"I anticipate that a handicap person likes to travel, just as much as we do. I know Mike does," she said.

"He wanted to go see the Bluenose II. We told him about the museum down in Lunenburg, how great that is, so he wanted to see that."

now