Prince Edward County officials decry 'unfortunate' case of couple denied B&B over service dog
Same officials say province's accessibility rules need clarification
Prince Edward County officials are trying to make things right after a couple with a service dog were barred from a local bed and breakfast earlier this summer.
David Greenwood and his wife, Jill, had planned to spend the weekend at a bed and breakfast in the town of Bloomfield, Ont., about 200 kilometres east of Toronto, but were told they couldn't stay there with Greenwood's black Labrador service dog, Romy.
Emily Cowan, the executive director of the county's chamber of commerce, called the situation "unfortunate" in an emailed statement.
Given the number of bed and breakfasts in the area, Cowan says she'd like to see some legislative clarity around what the rules are when it comes to service animals.
Following the incident, Sunrise's owners, John and Joan Stenning, hired a lawyer who suggested that because the bed and breakfast operates in a private space, they should have the right to turn away a service dog.
But according to the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, if a bed and breakfast has at least one employee, it must adhere to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), which states people with disabilities must be able to bring service animals with them in areas open to the public.
Prominent accessibility lawyer David Lepofsky, who chairs the AODA Alliance, said refusing someone with a service animal also violates Ontario's Human Rights Code, which guarantees everyone equal treatment with respect to services and facilities.
"Renting a hotel or a B&B room would seem to me to be pretty obviously a service or facility," he said.
B&B operators urged to go 'above and beyond'
Cowan said county officials will be speaking with bed and breakfast operators about situations like this.
"We encourage accommodation providers to go above and beyond the legislated requirements to ensure all customers have an outstanding experience," she said.
Meanwhile, Neil Carbone, the county's director of community development, said he's been in touch with Greenwood to ensure his next visit is a more positive one.
"The county prides itself on welcoming all visitors," he said in a statement.