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'A strong signal': Five-year-old captivates Regina City Council with pitch to build waterslide elevator

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Regina City Council heard from a long list of delegates Wednesday night. However, there was one who stood out perhaps more than anyone else due to her young age. Five-year-old Blake Turnbull who hopes to one day be able to ride the waterslides at the newly renovated Wascana Pool.

Turnbull, who has Spina bifida and uses a wheelchair, waited in the gallery for hours before getting her chance to speak on behalf of herself and an entire community.

The young girl would like to see city council move forward with a project that has been debated for more than a year now, the construction of an elevator to make the waterslides at the newly renovated Wascana Pool more accessible for people like herself.

Council had initially greenlighted the project, but when it was learned in December that the original cost had more than doubled, from around $500,000 to about $1 million, it was shelved so other accessibility upgrades could be completed around the city first.

“Other people they need it [an elevator] and nobody wants to be left out,” Turnbull told CTV News.

“Some people at my daycare have wheelchairs,” she added.

The child’s efforts were not in vain as council approved as much as $175,000 to help fund the elevator. The money will come from a 2024 and 2025 recreational fund.

If the total cost exceeds that amount though council will again have to find the remaining money elsewhere.

However, Turnbull’s determination was something that councillors noticed and even hope inspires others.

“I think it’s really important that people come and advocate for themselves and a five-year-old who would benefit from an accessible waterslide was here advocating for themselves and that is super important,” Coun. Dan LeBlanc said.

Coun. Terina Nelson, who has been a strong supporter of the project from the get go, said a strong message to the community was sent.

“This is a strong signal to the community, to the people in our community that we will fight for you and we will fight for inclusion,” Nelson said.

Blake’s mother, Sarah Turnbull says her daughter is someone who wants to be as independent as possible.

“She’d rather do things by herself than with me and that actually goes back to even the elevator, like enabling her to be independent and to be part of the community,” Sarah Turnbull said.

She added that regardless of the final outcome the experience has been a huge learning opportunity for the young girl and something she will likely draw on the next time she lobbies at city hall.

-- With files from Allison Bamford. 

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