Maria Kovacs isnt always welcomed when she arrives at a restaurant with her seeing-eye dog, Cassidy, but Bella Vita in downtown Maple Ridge treats her like one of the family.
The Maple Ridge resident goes regularly to the restaurant on Lougheed Highway, and when the owners changed a year ago, she sat with them and explained how she has been coming to the restaurant for years and was always welcomed.
They listened and now theyre welcoming to me I get the royal treatment, Kovacs explained.
She decided to nominate Bella Vita for an accessibility award in the customer service category, given out every year by the Municipal Advisory Council on Accessibility Issues (MACAI).
MACAI gave out the accessibility awards a few weeks ago, like they have been doing for a decade.
This year, awards were given out for universal/architectural access, leisure and recreation, and customer service.
There were three winners in the universal/architectural access category.
The North Fraser Therapeutic Riding Association relocated recently, and the accessibility committee awarded the group for several features that help people in wheelchairs use the facilities, for example, a wheelchair-accessible mounting ramp, a harness lift system, easy access vehicular traffic, HandyDART, and wheelchair accessible parking and washrooms.
The Fraternal Order of Eagles was recognized with an accessibility award for allowing an MS support group, called Hope and Balance, to use their hall for a variety of therapeutic treatments.
KEEPS (Kanaka Environmental and Education Partnership) was recognized for its design work on the new education centre that integrates accessibility.
Sapphire Island Yoga received an award in the leisure and recreation category because owner Jane Gallagher donates her time to giving gentle adaptive yoga classes to people with disabilities.
Ridge Canoe and Kayak, based at Whonnock Lake, recently bought equipment to allow people with disabilities to paddle, and they have trained coaches and volunteers to facilitate adaptive paddling. This earned them an accessibility award from MACAI as well.
And, the parent advisory council at Eric Langton was recognized for their new accessible playground.
In addition, MACAI recognized two Garibaldi students, Tori and Summer Brack, who have been working to stop people from using the R-word, which they explained to their peers is a hurtful and derogatory term.
@ Copyright 2013