Disability Advocates Want Windsor Homeowners to Shovel Their Sidewalks, Consider Others

‘It makes you feel a little not respected or thought about’
CBC News
Posted: Feb 09, 2021

The past few days of snowfall have made it difficult for Danica McPhee, who uses a wheelchair, to go for walks or get around Windsor due to the number of sidewalks left unshovelled.

Having been stuck in the snow before, McPhee said she’s often discouraged from heading out in the winter to walk her dog or do other activities alone, out of concern that she might find herself in the “humiliating” situation again.

In Windsor, there’s a bylaw that requires homeowners and tenants to clear the snow in front of their house within 12 hours, yet some still don’t get it done.

And while the issue isn’t new, it’s become even more frustrating for people like McPhee who live with a disability.

“It just feels a little bit like you don’t matter and that’s a feeling we get every time we can’t enter a building and it hurts,” said McPhee, who works with Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario.

“It’s difficult … I walk my dog every day, I’m assuming that I’m kind of known to the neighbourhood … and again it makes you feel a little not respected or thought about, even if that’s not the intention.”

McPhee added that the curb cuts, where the sidewalk dips down for someone to cross the street, often also gets covered by snow and she asks that the city be mindful of these spaces, along with bus stops.

Yet most of these accessibility issues don’t get recognized unless someone complains, McPhee said, adding that that’s not necessarily the best way to deal with these issues.

“That actually puts all the onus on the person who’s already being discriminated against to stand up for themselves and they just might not be able to do that,” she said, adding that active monitoring by the city might help.

As a result of snow and ice pile up, she’s unable to routinely walk her dog in the winter and has to send it to a daycare for proper exercise.

Despite the added cost this brings, she said when she comes across a stretch of unshovelled sidewalk she always thinks about the person in the home – whether they also have a disability or are elderly and can’t take off the snow themselves.

“I’m conflicted about it, I get so upset when I’m rolling over the snow and my fingers are freezing and I can’t move but then I wonder is it somebody with a disability in there? Are they trapped inside as well?” she said.

‘Inclusion is the gateway to independence’

But even then, the City of Windsor has a Snow Angels program where residents can call 311 to have someone voluntarily shovel their space if they can’t do it themselves.

Disability advocate Kevin McShan, who uses an electric-powered wheelchair, says he’s also gotten himself stuck in the snow and, like McPhee, has dealt with the issue for quite some time.

“You learn to be strategic I’ll tell you that much, you try to look at the most uncumbersome path and what I mean by that is when there’s less snow you try to aim your wheelchair and if you get stuck in the snow you hope you have enough horsepower to get out of it,” he said, adding that he also makes sure he goes out with a personal support worker or someone who can pull him out.

But what would help is if people took more of an initiative to think of others, he said.

“Inclusion is the gateway to independence so anything we can do to alleviate the concerns for people with disabilities I’m all for it,” he said.

“We’re all rolling in the same boat and one thing I always tell people is ‘if you don’t want to help me out, how about we trade places for a day’ and then they usually get the message.”

Original at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/disability-snow-advocates-sidewalk-1.5907266

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Downtown Building’s Facelift Wins Award for Accessibility

By Justyne Edgell, Local Journalism Initiative ReporterThe Uxbridge Cosmos Thu., Dec. 17, 2020

Recent renovations to a busy downtown Uxbridge building have earned a regional Champion of Accessibility Award.

Durham Region’s Accessibility Advisory Committee recently presented the honour to 29 Toronto St., home to Pharmasave, the Toronto Street Medical Centre, Uxbridge Physiotherapy and several other businesses. The building has had a major facelift of late, adding many features that not only update the building, but make it more accessible, hence the award.

Brandon Bird, CEO of Bernard Cole Corporation, bought the building last year. Bird, who was born and raised in Uxbridge, says he was excited when the opportunity to own property in his home town came up.

“29 Toronto St. fit all the criteria I had, but needed a lot of tender, love and care to restore it to its original glory,” explains Bird. “We are currently undergoing a significant revitalization of the property, both inside and out which gave us several opportunities to improve access around the property.”

Bird was given the Champion of Accessibility award after renovating his building beyond legislation set out by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, including replacing pathways, improving signage and widening doorways.

According to the official announcement from the Region, award recipients are businesses or services that have made an effort to identify, remove and prevent barriers for individuals living with a disability.

Bird says he’s pleased with the award, but is looking forward to further improvements on the building.

“We still have many more projects to go to get the property up to our standards. Over the next four months tenants and residents will continue to see improvements inside and out!”

Original at https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2020/12/17/downtown-buildings-facelift-wins-award-for-accessibility.html

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Ontario Human Rights Commission Issues Statement on Accessible Housing

November 22, 2020

While the COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted the need for safe housing, Ontarians with disabilities have always lived with the harsh reality that their housing choices are extremely limited, chronically inaccessible and often substandard and unsafe.

One in seven Ontarians have a disability. Yet, Ontarians with disabilities routinely face discriminatory screening practices by landlords and blanket refusals to retrofit accessibility features when accommodation needs arise. People with disabilities are regularly forced to file legal claims simply to get landlords to remove barriers and build safer environments; for example, litigating the installation of ramps, accessible parking, automated doors, brighter lighting, widened entrances, handrails, switching floors, etc. These are just a few of the types of claims that have gone before human rights tribunals and landlord and tenant boards.

For over a decade, the Ontario Human Rights Commission has pointed out that the onus is not just on housing providers to respect the right to accessibility. All levels of government, community planners and housing developers must promote disability rights by committing to universal design for any new housing construction. Accessible housing is not a panacea for eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities, but is a critical step toward facilitating safety, security and independence.

On National Housing Day, the OHRC calls on the Province to amend Ontario’s Building Code Regulation to require all units in new construction or major renovation of multi-unit residences to fully meet universal accessibility standards. The OHRC also calls on municipalities to prioritize universal design construction, consistent with their obligations under the Code. Government and housing providers must work together to make sure that new developments are fully inclusive, because Ontarians deserve no less.

“Universal design” makes housing accessible and adaptable not just for people with disabilities, but for everyone.

A 2019 Angus Reid Institute study found that over half of Canadians surveyed were concerned about their home being inaccessible as their family aged. Universal design allows people to age with dignity ” in their own homes and communities ” without costly retrofits, searching for new housing or being forced into residential care.

The economic and social benefits of aging in our own homes are well established. The pandemic has exposed the unfortunate truth that residential care, while necessary for some people, is an expensive option that carries significant risks.

Universal design isn’t just a human rights ideal

Original at http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/news_centre/ohrc-statement-national-housing-day-november-22-accessible-housing-makes-social-economic-sense

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New Real Estate Features Help Identify Accessible Housing

By Quinn Ritzdorf News-Press NOW

The Heartland Multiple Listing Service, an informational housing system used by real estate agents in the St. Joseph and Kansas City area, has added a more detailed filtering system for accessibility features.

Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant housing is difficult to find for the elderly and those with physical disabilities, which is why Kenton Randolph, the owner of Randolph Seating & Mobility, partnered with Berkshire Hathaway as an accessibility specialist to come up with a solution by updating the filters in the MLS.

“There is a growing need for ADA-accessible housing, not only in St. Joe, but in multiple communities,” Randolph said. “So as people age, a lot of them are wanting to age in place, therefore desiring to have a home that will allow them to do that.”

Randolph said there are two issues with ADA accessible housing ” inventory and identifying. This new feature will help with the identifying problem by helping those with physical disabilities find the home that’s right for them.

“Somebody comes to a real estate agent and asks about buying a home,” Randolph said. “Then the agent would be able to go into the matrix and search it by looking for a house that has wheelchair entry, accessible bathroom or stairlift.”

The previous MLS only stated if the entry of a house was accessible, but didn’t include anything inside the house. The updated filters include door widths, bathroom accessibility, stairlifts and ceiling tracks, to name a few.

“So in order to help my clients try to find more accessible homes, the MLS offers them an avenue to go in and select what modifications this home may have that is accessible ” ramps, smart technology, bathroom handicap accessibility, kitchens, bedrooms, so forth,” Randolph said. “So it gives a lot more expandability.”

The new MLS was six months in the making and followed the example of Northwest MLS in Oregon.

The Northwest and Heartland MLS are leading the way in accessible housing. They are one of the few systems in the entire country with detailed accessibility features.

Randolph said the goal is for all MLS systems to have these detailed filters, because it provides an easier way for those with disabilities to find housing with the proper needs.

“Everybody has unique needs,” Randolph said. “Not all people require the same amount of accessibility. Some of them don’t need an overhead lift in a home, so you can narrow that technology down.”

This updated MLS is new, and Randolph said real estate agents need to use the accessibility features for it to be effective. But if it is utilized, the identifying problems surrounding accessible housing could face a possible solution.

Original at https://www.newspressnow.com/news/local_news/business/new-real-estate-features-help-identify-accessible-housing/article_c32cdce0-2ad1-11eb-b8d5-a37c565da9c9.html

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Smiths Falls Accessibility Advocate Applauds Beckwith Street Improvements

The town has a newly formed accessibility committee
By Evelyn Harford
Smiths Falls Record News
Friday, November 13, 2020

For Lucie Bingley, the redevelopment of Beckwith Street isn’t just about esthetics, it’s about an improvement in accessibility downtown.

As a person with spina bifida, Lucie uses a walker to help with mobility and balance.

The wider sidewalks and curbless design employed as part of Beckwith Street’s redevelopment means she can move around easier downtown.

“Anything that doesn’t have a curb is wonderful,” she said. “It’s very evident that accessibility requirements are a consideration for council and the town. I think they certainly have done a good job.”

Mary Pat Bingley, Lucie’s mom, explained that before the redesign, the parking configuration meant they’d have to get Lucie’s walker out into traffic. With the new design, the walker can be unloaded more safely. An added bonus: Lucie doesn’t need to head down to the nearest intersection from where her car was parked to access the sidewalk via the ramp. Previously, curbs would limit where she could access the sidewalks.

Lucie explained that with the redesign, it’s also easier to get into some stores downtown, as the sidewalks are more level with business entrances. Before, she said, it was “quite difficult” to get into some places.

“That has really changed,” she said.

Lucie explained that previously, she could do it with assistance, but she feels she has more independence now.

“I feel a lot more confident with it,” she said.

The Record News met with Lucie in downtown Smiths Falls to check out the improvements to accessibility and explore what barriers remain. As we walked from the old post office at the corner of Russell Street East and Market Street North, it became abundantly clear why wider sidewalks in town are needed. As people approached Lucie with her walker, there wasn’t an easy flow. Either those approaching, or our group needed to move over to let the other party pass.

“The sidewalks being widened are very crucial,” said Lucie. “People in wheelchairs, particularly a larger one, would really need that clearance to be able to get down the street and feel safe.”

While crossing at the intersection of Beckwith and Russell, the light turned red just before we could make it to the other side. While standing on that street corner, Mary Pat pointed out why accessibility issues are so important.

“There’s more people than you think,” she said motioning to others on the main street using walkers and scooters.

In her 27 years, Lucie said, people and institutions are now starting to take accessibility issues more seriously and they’re coming to the forefront of discussion and decision-making.

“I really do see that as an evolving discussion that does come up a lot more now,” she said. “People are really realizing their role in how they can contribute to accessibility issues and what can I do to help.”

Lucie is the chair of the newly formed accessibility committee in town. It’s a committee that will help advise council on accessibility issues. The committee is working to improve the accessibility of Smiths Falls by removing existing barriers and by preventing new barriers from being created.

Lucie said when most people think about accessibility, they think of wheelchairs.

“I think it’s really important to know that there are different kinds of disabilities ” visual, audio,” she said. Lucie said those diverse voices and needs are represented on the committee.

“It’s great to see the different perspectives,” she said.

Troy Dunlop, the town’s director of public works and utilities, reported that the redesign incorporated new accessibility elements, including accommodation for side and rear loading accessible vans, barrier-free roadside parking (which includes no vertical barriers between parked cars and adjacent sidewalks), tactile markers for persons who are visually impaired, audible signals and high visibility crosswalks.

“I am very pleased to hear that accessibility improvements are well received in the downtown,” he said.

Dunlop said that town staff sent out invitations and assembled a group of stakeholders in the accessibility community and held a focused workshop last year, which helped inform an improved design of Beckwith Street.

Dunlop explained that the designated accessible spaces are located in areas where vehicles can readily enter and exit the spaces conveniently and the roadside environment could accommodate the space requirements for exclusive off-loading area for ramps.

The designated spaces are situated in the first parallel parking spaces on your right in the direction that drivers enter into each block, Dunlop noted. There are two designated accessible spaces per downtown block ” six in total.

This is the same number of designated spaces prior to the redevelopment, at which time none of the spaces accommodated dimensions or functionality for side-loading or rear-loading accessible vans.

As for the timing of the lights on Beckwith Street, Dunlop said the three signalized intersections on Beckwith are still working off of the old traffic controller systems.

“The new controllers that will work with the audible upgrades will be installed in the near future,” he said. “The delay on this work is directly related to the delay in obtaining the black traffic controller boxes.”

Dunlop said once the controllers are swapped out, the timing will be changed and the pedestrian crossings will be timed accordingly. “Regretfully, that step cannot be carried out right now,” he said. “In all cases, the timing is developed to meet the guidelines of the Ministry of Transportation.”

To learn more about the town’s accessibility committee visit: http://www.smithsfalls.ca/government/committees-of-council.

Original at https://www.insideottawavalley.com/news-story/10264979-smiths-falls-accessibility-advocate-applauds-beckwith-street-improvements/

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When Street Design Leaves Some People Behind

Expanding road space for bikes can limit accessibility for others – a balancing act for street planners and disability advocates. By John Surico
August 13, 2020

A person in an electric wheelchair crosses a street in Hawthorne, California. Adding bike infrastructure is a boon for cyclists, but some street redesigns can make getting around harder for disabled road users.

Last month, cycling advocates in the U.K. cheered the opening of Manchester’s “CYCLOPS.” Short for “Cycle Optimised Protected Signals,” the redesigned junction is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom, land of the difficult roundabout. Cyclists can ride seamlessly around the “external orbital cycle route,” separate from pedestrians, who cross cycle lanes and traffic islands, and in sync with motor vehicle traffic. It will act as a blueprint, advocates say, for future junction design.

But for some pedestrians, CYCLOPS is riddled with conflict. Those who are blind or partially sighted told me that the flattened curbs offer little indication that cyclists are approaching from either direction. The traffic-island-hopping produces multiple pressure points. People with hearing issues have trouble picking up the quiet hum of bicycle traffic. If this is the future, then accessibility advocates are concerned.

The disabled community is no stranger to shaping street design. As Sara Hendren recently wrote in CityLab, it was the work of activists who called out the normative “user” that paved the way to the Americans With Disabilities Act and made curb cuts mainstream. Projects like CYCLOPs represent the newest chapter of that same struggle, as cities shift from car-centric infrastructure toward “complete streets”-style redesigns meant to promote bikes, pedestrians and other forms of “active travel.” But what may be heralded as expanded space for one kind of road user can be a new hurdle to overcome for another. And as the Covid-19 pandemic accelerates such street reconfiguration, activists are worried that new changes will not take their experiences into account.

Growing up with a disabled parent in New York, I learned early on that every curb cut matters. Accessibility can be particularly tricky in underground mass transit: Only a quarter of New York City’s subway stations, for example, are ADA-accessible. It’s an issue of growing global importance. The number of people with disabilities living in cities around the world is estimated to reach nearly a billion by 2050. And solutions can be hard to come by.

Street access disputes are a hot topic in London, as I found out after moving to the U.K. capital last year. Last September, during London’s “Car-Free Day,” Will Norman, the city’s “cycling mayor,” was giving a speech on future plans amongst a favorable audience, before activists confronted him to ask about what they perceived as systemic design flaws in new bike-friendly street changes that made life more difficult for those on foot.

One big issue is the bus stop bypass, where cycle lanes go around floating bus stops in order to avoid entering traffic. At least 50 of these new features have been installed along London’s “Cycle Superhighways” since 2010 as a means of boosting bike ridership. But there’s a catch: Essentially, bus riders getting on or off from the sidewalk must first cross a cycle lane.

Later, activists also showed me videos on Twitter of other schemes I had taken for granted. In Glasgow, a new pedestrian crossing fell in the middle of a busy cycle lane. In Amsterdam, where conflict between pedestrians and cyclists is rising, a woman with sight issues had her cane whisked away. In London, dockless e-bikes left on sidewalks are blocking access and leading to injury.

“In London, often streets cannot be widened in any way, so when you wish to include cyclists, you could do something with regards to the outer lane, but that’s impinging on motor traffic,” said Karl Farrell, a member of the National Federation of the Blind of the U.K. and Transport for All, who is featured in the London video at the link below. “Or you take away from the footway. There’s obviously a lot of pressure on main roads, and the problem is there’s so much motor traffic. It’s hard to resolve that in a hurry. Normally, it’s the footways that have to yield and take the pressure, and society is likely to ignore those people.”

The U.K.’s Equality Act, which bans discrimination against disabled users, clearly states that local planners should push forward with a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate claim.” But it can be difficult in practice, as interpretations vary in what is ultimately a complex environment. (Advocates also argue that models for bike infrastructure in the U.K. are based on examples from Dutch or Danish cities, which can ignore local realities.)

Bike activists tend to stress “subjective safety,” or how one experiences the street – but often only for cyclists.

Take, for example, this issue of cycling near bus stops. Bike riders could just go around the bus stop and enter the motor traffic lane, but that may discourage cyclists (and also slow down buses, which move more people). The bus stop bypass idea may be thought of as the proportionate response – except it also yields issues of accessibility.

As cyclists, walkers, bus riders and drivers duel over the same real estate, this give-and-take leads to disagreement, said John Dales, an urban designer and planner who advises City Hall on these issues. (So much so that in 2018, Westminster actually issued a temporary moratorium on new “shared space” plans.) Bike activists, he told me, tend to stress “subjective safety,” or how one experiences the street – but often only for cyclists. Similarly, disabled advocates can sometimes be quick to shoot down a project, if it doesn’t meet demands. And that, too, is problematic, considering the citywide goal for 80% of trips to be done by sustainable modes by 2041.

“Start with: We have a problem. It’s what we have to work out to solve,” Dales told me. He advocated for a reasonable adjustment approach: “It’s then the job of practitioners and public authorities to say, “OK, we hear that, we’ll do the best we can.’” (It’s not always that easy, he admitted.)

But cities should consider a third option, Dales says: “Nobody’s questioning the traffic on the route. It’s the bullet that nobody really wants to bite. In several of these high streets, it’s the logical conclusion that traffic will have to be reduced.”

By instituting things like congestion pricing schemes that reduce the number of cars on the road, Dales says, cyclists would feel more comfortable navigating around buses, more space can be given to pedestrians, and streets wouldn’t need to have expensive new design features installed. “That’s just where we’re headed.”

But how can cities be proactive, rather than reactive, to accessible design?

Activists told me that social-media-bolstered advocacy must be paired with institutional representation. The number of local “access officers” in London, who typically work on these issues, was cut dramatically during post-2008 austerity. (London does not have a designated “accessibility” commissioner, either.) That lands this work on the desks of busy planners and designers, who hold varying lived experiences.

“They’re designing things that are causing problems that they don’t even realize they’re causing,” said designer Ross Atkin. “There’s an expectation to follow the standards to build an accessible street. But if you’ve got a situation where the space and geometry is different, or you’re building something that didn’t exist when they created it, then the standard is very brittle. It doesn’t tell you what the next best thing is, because the standard doesn’t tell you anything about the needs behind the standard.”

Atkin is an urban designer who follows social model theory: that is, it’s the built environment and cultural norms that disable people, not the impairments themselves. (Social model theorists opt to use the phrasing “disabled people,” instead of “people with disabilities.” I followed that notion here.) He’s working to create an accessible city through assistive and smart city tech, like “responsive street furniture” that communicates with disabled users via Bluetooth, or plans that can be read by blind or partially sighted users, so officials can effectively consult beforehand. (He provided similar materials for CYCLOPS.)

What is needed, he said, is a codified method of compromise. Case in point: tactile paving. These textured street surfaces help those with sight issues navigate seamless curbs – a popular traffic calming measure. They also partially hinder wheelchair users. But without it, blind or partially sighted users are entirely excluded, which is a greater net loss. “The important thing is acknowledging that in some cases, you might be making things a bit more difficult for one group in order to include another group,” Atkin said. “It’s all trade-offs. What we want to be doing is making the best trade-offs we can.”

This is the idea behind a new street accessibility standard Atkin, Dales and others are helping to design for the City of London Corporation, the body that oversees a tract of central London called the Square Mile. It studies the journeys of numerous user categories through various experimental models. The criteria is a spectrum: easy, frustrating, difficult or uncomfortable, and excluding or unpassable. “You can model a street that wasn’t included on the route, and work out how accessibility would be to these different groups,” Atkin said. “From a standards perspective, you can say, “Well this is the first step that we’re going to get our streets to.’ We’re going to ensure that nobody is excluded by anything on the streets.”

For advocates like Farrell, a city isn’t truly livable to the growing number of disabled people in cities like him until its streets feel safe to walk down, no matter what condition. But often he feels overlooked by design and planning processes. While cities everywhere are more formally recognizing accessibility as a key pillar of cities, he said that decades worth of work from advocates shouldn’t disappear in the name of sustainability. Solutions, he said, will come faster if everyone works together.

“These near-misses or low-impact collisions, they’re not recorded anywhere. But these things are important in society,” Farrell told me. “People should feel free, and anyone that is in the modern categories of vulnerability shouldn’t feel vulnerable using things like bus stops or walking along pavements.”

“That’s part of the quality of life: life itself.”

Original at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-13/do-bike-lanes-have-an-accessibility-problem#that-jump-content

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Sudbury Patios Causing Accessibility Challenges, Advocate Says

Blind Sudburian says he couldn’t safely navigate the path around a downtown patio Sarah MacMillan
CBC News, Posted: Aug 10, 2020

Rob DiMeglio recently had a scary experience trying to navigate a path around a patio in downtown Sudbury with his guide dog.

Rob DiMeglio often walks to work in downtown Sudbury, but recently, he’s been afraid to venture into the city’s centre – after a scary incident left him “shaken up” and concerned about accessibility for people with disabilities.

DiMeglio, who is the executive director of Independent Living Sudbury Manitoulin, is blind, and navigates using a cane and a guide dog. Recently, he had a frightening experience, when he and his dog were unable to navigate a path around a patio – one of many that have taken over sidewalks this summer, as bars and restaurants reopen.

“I understand these places want to open up and feed their small families downtown, but I gotta feed my family too. And I have the right to walk down the sidewalk and don’t feel like I’m going to be killed,” DiMeglio said.

He says the city should have done more to ensure patios – and the walking paths around them – are accessible for people with disabilities.

A moment of fear

DiMeglio was walking to work one morning last month when he passed in front of The Alibi Room, a bar on Durham Street. The bar’s patio has taken over the sidewalk, and there is a walking path set up on the street in front – roped off from traffic.

The problem for DiMeglio was that there was no curve or edge that he could feel with a cane, or for his guide dog to follow.

Rob DiMeglio is the executive director of Independent Living Sudbury Manitoulin. He says he doesn’t blame individual businesses for accessibility issues with patios, but rather the city.

“When I was in the middle of the road I couldn’t figure out where I was,” DiMeglio said.

He says his dog walked under the rope, and he started to fall – when he felt a passerby grab him to lift him back up.

‘A learning process’

After the incident, DiMeglio met with Alibi Room owner, Kyle Marcus, to discuss ways to make the path more safe for people with visual impairments.

Marcus says he was sad to learn “something that we had produced affected someone negatively,” and has since added a second rope, close to the ground, to provide guidance to service dogs, as well a detectable barrier for canes.

My anger is with the people that signed the permit

– Rob DiMeglio

“Things like how a guide dog works or what they look for or what their cues are, are not anything that you know I’ve been conscious of in the past, [or] how someone with a cane walks,” Marcus said.

“It was quite a learning process.”

He said he also plans to add pylons to help demarcate the patio area from the path.

‘Not everyone’s being thought of’

DiMeglio is glad Marcus acted quickly to make changes at his bar, and he says he doesn’t blame individual business owners for not knowing exactly how to make spaces fully accessible.

“My anger is with the people that signed the permit, which is the city.” DiMeglio said.

He says the city should have consulted people with disabilities when approving patio permits.

For his part, Marcus says the city was “tremendous” in helping him set up his patio – but he wishes there had been instructions around accessibility for people who are visually impaired.

“I was disappointed that you know these kinds of considerations weren’t rolled into the plan, and it’s not a part of the permit, and you know, that not everyone’s being thought of,” Marcus said.

City’s response

In a statement to CBC, the a spokesperson for the City of Greater Sudbury said the application process for patios “includes a requirement for businesses to consider the safety and accessibility of the patio design” – such as having a walkway wide enough to accommodate mobility aides.

The city said there are no requirements for cane-detectable barriers on pedestrian walkways, however the spokesperson said “the City will take this recommendation to the Accessibility Advisory Panel for consideration.”

The city says it welcomes recommendations from residents for design improvements.

Sarah MacMillan

Sarah MacMillan is a reporter with CBC Sudbury. She previously worked with CBC P.E.I. You can contact her at [email protected]

Original at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/sudbury-patios-accessibility-problems-1.5678653

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Sarnia’s Accessible Kayak and Canoe Launch Makes a Splash

Terry Bridge
Published on: August 6, 2020

Sarnias new accessible kayak and canoe launch made a splash with its first user.

Pete Williams boarded the facility in a yellow kayak mere minutes after city officials cut a ribbon Thursday morning signifying the $75,000 projects completion.

Its really, really good, said Williams, who lives within walking distance of the new Centennial Park watercraft launch. Ive been waiting for this to happen for a long time.

Dale Mosley, the citys accessibility co-ordinator, said they expect it to be really popular based on initial feedback.

Were hoping that a lot of people are going to be using it, he said.

The launch will be open seven days a week from dawn until dusk the gate wont be locked after hours but there will be signage from about April until October, Mosley said. It will be moved to another location in the bay during the winter months.

A ramp leads from the shore for users in wheelchairs and a bench allows people to transfer into a canoe or kayak. Handrails can be used to propel boats forward.

Mosley said a member of the citys accessibility advisory committee learned last year a person was crossing the U.S. border to use a similar launch there since there wasnt one in Sarnia.

The committee decided to make this launch a priority to assist all people, no matter their age or ability, wanting to canoe and kayak in our beautiful waterfront, he said.

Coun. Brian White credited the committee for going above and beyond accessibility laws and legislation by looking for new ideas.

Thats exactly what we have here today, he said.

Construction only finished Wednesday.

It was a tight timeline but (owner) Joel (Speake) from JS Marine was a huge help, Mosley said.

The Southwestern Ontario company was contracted to build and install the launch in the park, nearly in line with Maxwell Street and south of the Suncor Agora. The location is popular locally and was recommended by the contractor to avoid boat traffic, waves and current, a report from city staff said.

No fishing will be permitted there, but swimming will be allowed, Mosley said.

As long as theyre safe, he said.

The investment is part of the citys accessibility plan.


[email protected]

Original at https://www.theobserver.ca/news/local-news/sarnias-accessible-kayak-and-canoe-launch-makes-a-splash

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The Dangers of E-Scooters

By: John Rae
July 15, 2020
Editor’s Note: This article is based on John Rae’s Presentation to the City of Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee, July 9, 2020

Chair Pasternak and members of the committee, I appear in opposition to any introduction of e-scooters in Toronto.

I am blind. I live in downtown Toronto. I’m age 71. Toronto has always been my home city, and I love our city.

These days all Ontarians live under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). That Act is designed to remove existing barriers and prevent the introduction of new ones, but what do I find? As a blind person I hate to say this, but I find Toronto, the city I love, our wonderful city, is becoming less accessible to me and not more accessible. Yes you heard me right members of the committee, I find this city is becoming less accessible and not more. Let me give you some examples.

What do I find, sidewalk clutter everywhere! There are Sandwich boards, bicycle racks, bicycles strewn on the sidewalk, construction sites almost everywhere, and one of the councilors earlier referred to cement planters. It’s been a while since I’ve been on St. George Street, but I’m afraid to say that my shins still remember the last time I was there. They are a menace to people like me, but it’s worse than that.

We now have to also deal with the silent killer, that’s the quiet car, and now we may have to deal with yet another silent menace on our roads – the silent E-Scooter. This iss an issue that should be of concern to all pedestrians, but is particularly so for people like me.

Our city has become difficult enough for me to navigate safely, and any introduction of e-scooters will only make it more and more difficult. This reality flies in the face of the AODA.

The notion that e-scooters can be safe to pedestrians like me is ridiculous! While they are typically restricted to wherever a bicycle is allowed to go, Ontario municipalities can also allow them on sidewalks. Regardless what approach a municipality takes, inevitably they will migrate onto sidewalks, and pedestrians will be hit and seriously injured. Our hospital emergency rooms are already overburdened due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, and any suggestions that this is a good time flies in the face of this reality. This is the worst time to be considering introducing e-scooters.

In answer to the question about bicycles, yes they can be a problem, too, but they are at least on the road, so pedestrians have some measure of safety from them. No, it’s not perfect, not perfect, but at least it’s a little better.

I think there are also serious liability issues to the City. If I’m knocked down and hurt by one of these menacing vehicles, you can bet your life that if I can identify who did it, I’ll be suing them. And you can also bet your life that I will join the City in such a lawsuit.

Introducing e-scooters to Toronto will require a new bylaw and officers to enforce it. I think the City has more important things to spend its limited enforcement dollars on. As one Councillor already mentioned this morning, “the cupboard is bare.” I believe him. I believe all of you who take that position. Well, that’s another reason to abandon this idea now and forever. I urge you to dismiss this idea and oppose altogether the introduction of the menace of e-scooters on Toronto streets.

I don’t understand why the committee is in such a hurry to deal with this issue, especially in these times. I would think that City Council an all committees and all of you have more important, more pressing civic issues, public policy issues on your plate than this one. I submit this is the wrong time, the worst time to be considering it.

This is an issue that must be put to rest. The only real answer to this issue is to ban the introduction of e-scooters on Toronto sidewalks now and forever.

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The City of Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee

Brief From: John Rae
Subject: Opposition to the Introduction of E-Scooters on Toronto Streets Date: July 29, 2020


My name is John Rae. I am totally blind, a long time human rights advocate, and a member of the Boards of three disability rights organizations, including the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC). I live in downtown Toronto. I am opposed to the introduction of E-scooters onto the streets of Toronto or elsewhere in Canada.

Legal Arguments Against E-Scooters:

The Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC) is designed to prohibit discrimination against various groups, including persons with disabilities. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was enacted to help remove barriers and prevent the introduction of new barriers.

Taken together, these two statutes argue against the introduction of e-scooters, which I maintain will represent a new barrier to the safe and unobstructed use of Torontos pathways.

Accessibility in Toronto:

Despite the AODA, Navigating throughout Toronto for persons who are blind, deafblind and partially sighted is becoming more of a struggle, and not less so. Blind pedestrians must navigate around construction sights, deal with paper boxes and sandwich boards on sidewalks, contend with quiet automobiles when crossing streets and deal with subways without fare collectors at booths, who not only collected fares but who also provided lots of information on the layout of subway stations and possibly even the area nearby the station. These obstructions to pedestrians are now being further exacerbated by the extension of space for patios. Again, I must emphasize the AODA was enacted to remove barriers and prevent the introduction of new barriers.

The Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee, a body required under the AODA, recommended that City Council prohibit the use of e-scooters in public spaces, including sidewalks and roads.

The Staff Report states:

“On February 3, 2020, the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee recommended City Council prohibit e-scooters for use in public spaces including sidewalks and roads, and directed that any City permission granted to e-scooter companies be guided by public safety, in robust consultation with people living with disabilities, and related organizations serving this population.”

The World Blind Union Statement on E-Scooters:

The World Blind Union (WBU) has developed a statement on e-scooters, which acknowledges that E-Scooters can expand personal transport options by providing a relatively cheap mode of transport that can go where buses don’t.

At the same time, the WBU Statement lists a number of problems with the introduction of e-scooters, including:

  • The quiet nature of these devices,
  • Excessive speed on pedestrian pathways,
  • Randomly parked or abandoned scooters (particularly when lying down) as those can be obstacles for blind, partially sighted and older, frail people to fall over and trip on,
  • A lack of warning systems,
  • Lack of regulations and/or a piece-meal approach by local government/territorial authorities on where the use of E-Scooters is permitted creates unclarity among the public and has led to scooters are trafficking pedestrian pathways,
  • Lack of traffic rules for micro-mobility devices inflicts on the city’s possibilities to sanction users which are not abiding to traffic regulations or “common sense” of traffic behaviour


As the AODA Alliances brief to this Committee points out: “Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, our hospitals and emergency rooms were backlogged, resulting in the scourge of hallway medicine. The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed unprecedented added demands and pressures on our health care system, including our hospitals.”

The Staff Report’s analysis amply shows that if e-scooters are allowed, this will lead to an increase in personal injuries, both to e-scooter riders and innocent pedestrians. Of course, this will create additional demands and pressures on our already over-burdened hospital emergency rooms.

Our health care system is already over-burdened, and does not need additional cases resulting from additional injuries caused by e-scooters on our streets.

Conclusion and Recommendation:

E-scooters pose a risk to all pedestrians, but especially to persons with disabilities due to their faster speeds and lack of noise. I strongly recommend the Infrastructure and Environment Committee support the position of the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee and recommend that City Council prohibit e-scooters for use in public spaces including sidewalks and roads.

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