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Halifax accessibility advocate gets formal advisory position with HRM

Vienneau says he is not taking on the role to be 'propped up as a symbol'
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Halifax City Hall (Meghan Groff/

One of Halifax's most visible accessibility advocates will soon have a new way to promote his cause - as a member of HRM staff.

Paul Vienneau popped onto the scene as a 'the a-hole with a shovel', but most recently he organized DisabilityX, a TED Talk style forum for people with disabilities to share their stories

Now Vienneau has been hired as the special advisor on accessibility to HRM's CAO Jacques Dube.

Vienneau tells NEWS 95.7 that just because he's getting paid by the municipality, it doesn't mean he's going to dull his criticisms.

"They know what they're getting, so part of the deal is they have to be okay with me not being a suit and tie guy, a certain amount of shall we say, Cole Harbour rusticness, and that I will be as open and honest as I can be," says Vienneau.

Vienneau is a wheelchair user, and he made his presence known back in 2015 when he documented himself clearing ice and snow in the dead of winter.

He states he is not in his new role to be propped up as a symbol.

"I needed up front to say, so even though I've [been] building these relationships with city staff and councillors, there needs to be a certain arms length about this," says Vienneau.

Vienneau says this is really, essentially official recognition of his previous informal role as an advisor to various members of city staff.

"This way it's more formal, the collaboration to try to make things better, and it's a proper seat at the table, which is great," says Vienneau. "Because before, you know, it was just the opinion of a citizen."

He reiterates this change isn't going to reduce his voice, because the whole point of this appointment and his advocacy is to make things better, not necessarily to make friends.

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