First-come-first-served seating for wheelchairs is a game of Survivor-of-the-fastest at Cavendish for Rod Stewart

By Stephen Pate – You are not guaranteed accessible seating at the July 9th, 2015 Rod Stewart Performance in Cavendish PEI unless you pay double the ticket price.

survivor-2The wheelchair accessible section is a game of Survivor with first-come-served seating. The strongest and fastest wheelchair concert goers will get accessible seating.

I have tickets but will be asking for a refund. I’d like to see Rod Stewart live but it will be cheaper, safer and warmer watching  One Night Only – Rod Stewart Live at Royal Albert Hall for $12 at home on the DVD.

This is unusual ticketing for people with disabilities. Normally you call Ticketmaster or the venue ticket agent, show your need for wheelchair accessible seating and get reserved seating for the person in the wheelchair and one guest.

Shania Twain Charlottetown parking pass

Shania Twain Charlottetown parking pass

That’s how the Shania Twain concert worked last year in Charlottetown. You got an accessible tag with your tickets when ordering. That’s how events work in the United States where they have laws to protect people with disabilities, and in Moncton and Halifax.

Whitecap Entertainment, the promoters of the Cavendish Beach Music Festival think people in wheelchairs should duke it out in a Survivor-of-the-fittest contest.

The only way to get wheelchair seating is to be first to the gate and wait. That could mean 4-5 hours in the hot sun or rain for people with disabilities and medical problems.

Fresh from their $500,000 Province of PEI loan, Whitecap Entertainment has a solution. “We do also have an option of a section of the “reserved seating” that is designated as accessible,” said Jillian Campbell of Whitecap.

Read the latest on this story – Will The Rod Stewart Concert in Cavendish Be Accessible?

Reserved seating costs $195, an extra $105 per ticket. That’s the first time I’ve seen the disabled charged a premium to get accessible seating. There are 32 seats at that price. Whitecap Entertainment say they don’t charge for accessible services but that’s not true –  “We do not…charge a separate fee for this service.” (see policy below).

“Survivor” accessible seating costs $90. “The wheelchair accessible viewing platform is available on a first- come / first- serve basis,” said Whitecap. “it’s fairly big and as long as you arrive when/ right after the gates open you shouldn’t have a problem. Just need a ticket and you can sit in the area.

“Fairly big” and “you shouldn’t have a problem” are wonderful words backed with nothing. It’s a decent drive from Charlottetown, Summerside or from out-of-province to go to a night-time concert in a wheelchair. Most people in wheelchairs need a some certainty they will be accommodated.

From years of experience I can tell if the venue is either friendly or not-so-friendly for wheelchair users.  Whitecap are in the ignorant class, not a good sign.

Those restrictions may not bother everyone. Disability and ability varies but the basics are the same. Accommodation is supposed to make it easier.

Access Advisor approved

Access Advisor.ca has approved the facilities at Cavendish Beach Music Festival.  This company is a disability disaster who were apart of the $29 million PEI tourism spending spree last summer.

Jordan Fraser of Access Advisor - do you see his wheelchair?

Jordan Fraser of Access Advisor – do you see his wheelchair?

There were free concerts last summer on PEI but no reserved seating for wheelchair users. We had to run the same gauntlet of Survivor- first seating.

There is a reason we say “Nothing about us without us.”  People should not be making decisions about people with disabilities unless are living with disability and not just wheelchair use.

Operations like Access Advisor.ca are in the business of making a profit off our disability problems without offering real solutions.

Official policy – Is the Event wheelchair accessible?

“The Cavendish Beach Events Centre has been recently accredited as “Fully Accessible” by Access Advisor.

We offer a wealth of services to our physically challenged guests to ensure a positive experience. Services include an accessible parking lot for those with the government issued parking passes, a limo golf cart shuttle service to and from the parking lot, through accreditation at the gate, accessible washrooms, crushed gravel pathways, and a newly constructed accessible viewing platform that offers a premium view of the main stage.

Our accessible viewing platform is fully licensed and comes complete with a beverage server. We do not take reservations or charge a separate fee for this service. Space is offered and limited- on a first-come-first-serve basis. Whitecap FAQ

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