You can call Doreen Burrows a squeaky wheel but it has nothing to do with her walker. It's all in her commitment to insist all people fulfil their responsibilities.
A resident of Amica Douglas House at 50 Douglas St. since last fall, Burrows came in to the seniors residence, according to its managers, like a "powerhouse."
One of the first things the 85-year-old recognized was how difficult the entranceway was for seniors. The standard curb at the front of the building made it difficult to exit a cab, or any other vehicle, with a walker, a wheelchair, a cane or any level of frailty.
The curb was just too high. And as a piece of Victoria-owned infrastructure, Burrows figured it was city's job to fix it.
So Burrows wrote to Mayor Dean Fortin. When she received no reply she telephoned and waited until Fortin himself came to phone to tell him she was very disappointed in his lack of response.
Within days, someone from the city engineering department showed up at Douglas House. He promised the curb would be cut away to allow for a smooth ramp up from the street. It would be an "easy little job," promised the engineer.
But nothing happened for weeks. So Burrows telephoned the engineering department.
"I wanted to know why, if it's just a small little job, does it take a month to do anything," she said.
Then the engineer said the worst possible thing.
Burrows was told fixing the curb was such small a job that to make it worth the city's while, it would have to be lumped in with a few other small jobs in the area.
"I said it may not be important for you, but it's very important for all of us here," Burrows said.
Within days the new cutaway curb was finished at a cost of about $500. And next week, Fortin and other representatives of the city will be on hand to officially open the curb for residents of Douglas House.
Despite all her effort, Burrows is grateful for the city's assistance. And while it was the city's responsibility to fix the curb, it was entirely up to people like herself to alert the city to the need.
Burrows said a lecturer at Douglas House gave her good advice when he told her it was up to her.
"He said, 'You get on to the mayor and you don't let up,' " she said.
Sally Orr, community relations manager for Douglas House, said people like Burrows are a boon to the residence. They participate on various committees and look out for one another.
But Orr said Burrows is something of a standout in her energy and drive.
"Doreen is such an asset at Douglas House."
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