Bond Head Residents Frustrated with Dilapidated Sidewalks

Bradford’s downtown core saw some new sidewalks put in last week, which has left some Bond Head residents wondering when theirs will be fixed May 14, 2020
By: Natasha Philpott

Many residents were happy to see the start of a mini-makeover in Bradford’s downtown core last week, when sidewalk repairs began on Holland Street West.

While Bond Head resident Dave Morton is glad to see the town taking action to ensure the safety of pedestrians in the downtown core, he is left wondering why, after years of complaints and letters to council, the rough-looking sidewalks in Bond Head have never been replaced.

In a letter to Mayor Rob Keffer and Coun. Ron Orr earlier this week, he attached three photos of the dilapidated sidewalks in Bond Head, and asked why they were not included in the town’s Road Safety and AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) audit, which was presented at the May 19 council meeting.

The audit had staff look at a variety of safety-related issues that included street lighting, tactile plates at intersections, speed limits in areas of pedestrian activity, pedestrian connections and walkways, cycling routes, and signage, but did not include the hamlet of Bond Head in their report.

“Unfortunately, the audit does not appear to include Bond Head,” said Morton.

“These BH (Bond Head) sidewalks are unsafe for pedestrians! Forget anyone using a wheelchair trying to use them,” read part of Morton’s letter to council this week.

In addition to the decrepit sidewalks, he noted that the crossing at the intersection of Highway 27 and County Road 88 has push buttons installed for pedestrians but claimed the “Walk”signal does not work, adding that the high rates of speed which cars travel in the area make it unsafe to walk, or even ride a bike.

“Yes, we have signage: a pylon has been placed where the sidewalk is crumbling, so that people don’t trip over the hole. And there’s a reflector placed on the lawn so that everyone is aware of another hole and the sunken sidewalk as it passes over the culvert,” he said.

In August 2019, a group of five Bond Head residents came together to form ‘The Bond Head 5’ to address concerns of the hamlet to council. Sidewalks were listed as one of the priority items for the town, but nothing has been done to address the issue to date, noted Morton.

“What does Bond Head need to do get a safety audit done of our sidewalks? The results of such an audit are obvious to anyone,” said Morton. “I am very upset at what appears to be council’s lack of concern for the safety of those using the sidewalks in Bond Head.”

In a response to the e-mail, Mayor Rob Keffer acknowledged the Bond Head sidewalks are in “tough shape” but assured that Bond Head would be part of the audit and the report received at the council meeting was just an update on what has been done and what still needs to be done.

“We will need to get a report on how much the sidewalk repairs will cost,” he said. He added that Joe Coleman, Manager of Transportation will be visiting the site on Thursday to investigate the walk signal issue at the intersection of Highway 27 and County Road 88.

“We have been set back with the COVID-19 restrictions, but we will do the best we can with the Transportation Master Plan.”

About the Author: Natasha Philpott

Natasha is BradfordToday’s Community Editor. She graduated from the Media Studies program at The University of Guelph-Humber. She lives in Bradford with her husband, two boys and two cats

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City Urged to Think About People With Disabilities in CurbTO Plan to Create Space on Sidewalks

‘Accessibility doesn’t happen by accident,’ says disability rights advocate David Lepofsky CBC News
Posted: May 03, 2020

David Lepofsky, a disability rights advocate, says: ‘The real question that I would ask is: What are they doing to ensure that, in altering this part of the built environment, that the alteration will increase and not decrease accessibility?’

An advocate is urging the City of Toronto to make sure its plan to ease sidewalk crowding takes into consideration the needs of people with disabilities amid COVID-19.

David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, said the new CurbTO program, in which the city will make room for pedestrians and delivery drivers through the creation of “curb lane pedestrian zones” and “temporary parking pickup zones,” is a good one. The alliance is a consumer advocacy group.

Through the program, the city is aiming to enable people on city sidewalks and drivers picking up and dropping goods off to engage in physical distancing to slow the spread of the virus.

But the program will actually make things worse for people with disabilities if city planners fail to think about accessibility for all people, Lepofsky told CBC Toronto on Sunday.

“The real question that I would ask is: What are they doing to ensure that, in altering this part of the built environment, that the alteration will increase and not decrease accessibility?

“In other words, the idea of creating more space for social distancing is obviously important and good. And the fact that they are looking at that is, regardless of disability, good.”

“If they don’t plan for its accessibility, they will likely screw up its accessibility. That’s what we find over and over. Accessibility doesn’t happen by accident. Inaccessibility happens by accident.”

City to make room at ‘hot spots’ or ‘pinch points’

Under the program, the city will make room at “hot spots” or “pinch points” where it is challenging for people to practise physical distancing because of lineups or congestion outside essential businesses.

These areas include sidewalks outside grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants and community agencies that offer pickup, takeout and delivery services, the city has said.

The city said it will initially target hotspots along 10 busy retail main streets for curb lane installations before the program is expanded to more than 100 locations across Toronto.

Lepofsky said the program raises several issues around accessibility.

For example, if people in a lineup outside a drug store are rerouted onto a curb lane, then it would be difficult for a person using a mobility device, such as wheelchair, scooter or walker, to enter that fenced-off lineup because it would involve stepping down onto the road.

“If they build accessibility in by making sure that the route has level access to get down into the street and so on, that could be an improvement,” he said.

And if, as an additional example, the city sets up a sign outside a drug store indicating where pedestrians should line up, that sign itself could become an obstacle for people who are blind or who have vision loss.

“What kind of prompting will there be to let me know where to go to line up? If they stick a sign on the road or on the sidewalk, which they might want to do, they have now created a new obstacle I could whack into,” he said.

“What are they are going to do to plan for safe navigation?”

In its April 27 news release in which it unveiled the program, the city did not address these concerns. The city has yet to respond to questions posed by CBC Toronto.

Signs, barriers to create additional space, mayor says

Mayor John Tory told reporters at a recent daily news briefing that staff will use signs and barriers to create additional space.

“Each location will have unique conditions that will be assessed carefully by Toronto Public Health and Transportation Services staff to develop the most appropriate solution,” Tory said.

“In some cases, city staff may be able to suggest line-up configurations to the business operator that alleviates crowding concerns. In other cases, a temporary curb lane closure may be the most effective response.”

“Curb lane pedestrian zones” are defined as areas in which pedestrians trying to move past lineups outside essential businesses will have more space.

“Temporary parking pick-up zones” are defined as areas in which drivers delivering food and medicine will be allowed to park for up to 10 minutes near an essential business where they are picking up or dropping off goods.

These zones could be created in areas that are now restricted parking zones.

Physical distancing difficult downtown, councillor says

A downtown councillor, meanwhile, has enlisted the support of residents to propose locations that the city could fix when it expands the program.

Coun. Joe Cressy, who represents Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York, said he is recommending 18 new additional spaces in his ward for “immediate improvements” under the CurbTO program where room could be created to allow people to distance physically during the outbreak.

“Notwithstanding the overarching advice to, where possible, stay at home, we know that in many neighbourhoods, especially in downtown Toronto, there are immediate spaces where it’s not possible to walk on the sidewalk without coming into contact with lots of people,” Cressy said.

His office has worked with local residents, community organizations, businesses and institutions to identify where there are issues around crowding, he said.

“We know that in this dense, crowded city of ours, the overarching message to stay at home works for some, but depending on how busy and crowded the sidewalks are, it doesn’t work for everyone, and that’s why we’re proposing these changes.”

Cressy said to make streets safe and accessible for all requires a “fundamental” redesign of city streets.

He said of CurbTO: “We need to include an accessibility focus around that.”

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Clearview Woman Says She Missed Funeral Reception for Friend Because the Hall Wasn’t Accessible

News 06:00 AM by John Edwards

Heather Prosser’s friend recently passed away.

When family and friends gathered at the Sunnidale Hall to pay their respects and share stories, she was unable to attend.

Prosser, who has arthritis in her hip and shoulder and other ailments, uses a walker to get around and is unable to make it up the stairs at the hall.

“I couldn’t attend. I couldn’t get in,” she said. “There were those people I would have liked to have talked to and catch up with what is going on in their lives, and I couldn’t.”

Recently Clearview Township received a report that showed it will take about $8 million to upgrade all of the small halls in the municipality to be compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

The township will be holding public sessions in the coming months on how to move forward.

“This is taxpayer money and they are taxpayer halls, I think we need to hear from them,” CAO Steve Sage said at a recent council meeting.

He said the township also needs to take a long look at the lifespan of some of the buildings.

“We’re going to be talking about investing millions of dollars in some buildings that are over 70 years old,” he said.

Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson recently called on the government in the legislature to assist Clearview Township.

“Will the township have to close the halls or will the Ontario government help to keep them open?” Wilson asked. “Will there be any stopgap measures that can be undertaken that would allow the municipality to prioritize renovations?

“While the township values these facilities and wants to do the right thing to keep them open, the cost may be too prohibitive. These buildings are important to the communities they serve. They are the lifeblood of rural Ontario in the areas they serve, and they’re significant to my riding. As such, I look forward to the government’s response to this important issue.”

Prosser said she would like to attend more events at the halls, but is unable to do so.

“I haven’t been to a small hall festival because I can’t get in,” she said. “I’m not a big card player but if somebody said to me, ‘Would you like to go play cards at the hall tonight?’ I might do that, but I can’t get in.”

by John Edwards

John Edwards is a reporter at The Connection, covering Collingwood and The Blue Mountains You can reach him at [email protected] .

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Royal York in Etobicoke Latest Accessible TTC Station

Royal York station is the TTC’s 46th station of 75 to become accessible News Mar 12, 2020 by Tamara Shephard

Royal York subway station is now Toronto’s 46th accessible subway station. The Etobicoke subway station’s new elevator became operational in December. But city officials only recently officially opened it.

Marlene Benedicto, 36, who uses a power wheelchair, said while the city “is getting better” at accessibility, she takes Wheel-Trans weekdays to and from work in Scarborough. If the TTC’s College station was accessible, Benedicto said she would use it to commute to and from work rather than Wheel-Trans.

Victoria is a keen user of the elevator at newly accessible Royal York station.

“I like the elevator,” said Victoria, who declined to give her last name, but said she uses it once a week to visit a nearby seniors’ centre. “I don’t like the escalator. I’ve fallen twice on the escalator.”

Recently, city officials declared Royal York as the Toronto Transit Commission’s 46th accessible station in its system of 75 subway stations throughout Toronto.

That makes 61 per cent of TTC stations accessible.

TTC accessible stations include “elevators, wide fare gates, automatic sliding doors, upgraded signage, ramps, Wheel-Trans stops and other improvements,” TTC spokesperson Hayley Waldman said in an email.

Liz Vehkavaara also couldn’t be more pleased by Royal York station’s accessibility.

“I used the elevator yesterday. I was so happy to see it,” Vehkavaara said on a ride down to the subway platform on the Bloor-Danforth line. “It’s the best thing they ever did at Royal York station. I take it very often.”

Etobicoke-Lakeshore Coun. Mark Grimes, who represents the area, said people with accessibility needs previously had to access the TTC’s Bloor-Danforth subway line at either Kipling or Jane stations.

“Obviously, I would love to have all of our subway stations accessible right now, but there is a need to ensure that stations are accessible throughout our subway system, and not clustered in specific areas while we work toward making every station accessible,” Grimes said in an email.

For several years, the TTC has been upgrading its stations to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), which became law in 2005.

The TTC’s 15-year capital investment plan, released last year, indicates the transit commission is on track to make all stations accessible by 2025.

However, the TTC states on its website the goal is “based on full funding.”

The third phase of the TTC’s station accessibility plan will cost $590 million. Its 2019-2023 TTC Multi-Year Accessibility Plan states the cost is fully funded between the city and the province. Last year, the Ontario government announced it would cut $1.1 billion in funding to Toronto, most of it slated for TTC repairs.

That left some concerned the TTC won’t meet the 2025 AODA deadline.

“It’s pretty damned urgent,” Shelley Carroll, a TTC commissioner, told in December. “We simply will not meet that 2025 goal without more partnership (from other governments).”

TTC stations scheduled to become accessible this year include Dupont, Wellesley, Yorkdale, Wilson, Runnymede, Bay and Chester.

In Etobicoke, Kipling station is also accessible. Etobicoke’s other two TTC stations, Old Mill and Islington, are scheduled to become accessible in 2024 and 2025, respectively.

Accessible TTC station priority rankings were developed “in consultation with our ACAT (Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit), taking into account ridership, geographic location, connecting surface routes, density of seniors and people with disabilities in an area, Wheel-Trans registrant travel patterns and other criteria,” Waldman said in an email.

” With files from Mike Adler and Megan DeLaire

Tamara Shephard

Tamara Shephard is a journalist in Etobicoke reporting hard news, politics and health and human-interest stories. Tamara loves to travel and is a fan of foreign and independent films. Email her at [email protected]

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Trails, Accessibility and Maintenance Get Top Billing in Hamilton County’s Proposed Parks Master Plan

March 9th, 2020 | by Sarah Grace Taylor

Greater trail and pathway connectivity, maintenance of existing parks and increased accessibility are the top priorities for the Hamilton County Parks and Recreation Board as it seeks approval of its final master plan.

The plan, which was presented in broad terms to members of the county commission, the county mayor and other officials Monday morning, is the product of more than a year of research into the needs of the county’s 18 parks and recreational facilities.

“Some parks we will be improving on what’s already there and just bring the standards up, some properties may require more or different amenities based on what’s there and what the needs are,” Parks and Recreation Director Tom Lamb said. “As we move forward, there will be updates, but this is the basic framework we want to work in.”

County commissioners soon will be asked to approve the plan, based off months of community input and more than 800 survey responses that indicate the greatest needs.

“The largest part of the process is information gathering,” said Art Thatcher, a principal at GreenPlay, the consulting firm hired by the county. “Talking to the community, reviewing all of your documents and looking at the community’s needs is done and we’ve shared our findings, so now it’s time to introduce the master plan.”

Connectivity or expansion of greenways and trails, increased accessibility to parks for all citizens, accessibility improvements at parks for those with disabilities, and completing deferred maintenance to improve and standardize quality across facilities ranked the highest among community concerns.

While specifics about projects, costs and a time frame were not shared at the meeting, the four commissioners present seemed to latch onto the priorities outlined, specifically accessibility.

Since the plan will include near-term, short-term and long-term ideas based on as much as eight years of planning, Lamb said, the commission will be asked to vote as a means of aligning priorities rather than approving specific projects.

“What we’re doing with this is not asking anyone to commit beyond adopting the master plan, which doesn’t mean committing to a dollar amount or even a timeline to spend any kind of money,” he said. “But what you’ll be asked to approve is a master plan, which means that we have a framework going forward.”

According to Lamb, this kind of broad plan adoption helps sort the department’s priorities rather than “randomly” assigning resources to projects or parks each year.

“This way we have a plan based on priorities and real data,” he said. “This lets us plan better.”

On top of providing the obvious services of parks, project leaders hope that outdoor improvements will yield more social and economic impacts for the surrounding community, as well.

“A lot of the needs and demands for services from parks have changed and increased,” Lamb said. “We’re now going to try and shift parks away from simply a public funding conversation and try to focus on economic, environmental, health and social values they provide to the community.”

Part of that initiative is the county looking outside of public resources to achieve better parks through engaging community groups, municipalities and other stakeholders in the planning, funding and other aspects of the master plan.

According to Lamb, 27 organizations interested or invested in the parks in some way have participated in the public input stage of the project.

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at 423-757-6416 or at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @_sarahgtaylor.

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After a Stroke at 27, He’s Ready to Get Out of Hospital. Amid a Housing Crunch, He Can’t Leave

Patrick Kunkel’s family struggling to find affordable, accessible housing in Toronto Lauren Pelley, CBC News
Posted: Feb 24, 2020

Slowly, steadily, Patrick Kunkel moves one foot in front of the other.

Standing between two parallel walking bars, and holding out his tattoo-covered arms to grip his physiotherapist for support, the 28-year-old is tentatively walking across the floor in a workout room at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.

“Finish the right step,” physiotherapist Rose Lesso orders, softly. “All the way.”

This small bit of movement is a challenge for Kunkel. So is any other movement for that matter, including eating, swallowing, speaking.

“It’s hard, hard, hard,” he says later from his hospital room, speaking only in hushed, staccato sentences while sitting in his wheelchair. “Really hard, learning how to walk again, and how to talk.”

Last July, at the age of 27, Kunkel suffered a massive stroke. He needed life-saving brain surgery, spent time in a coma in the intensive care unit at St. Michael’s Hospital, and has been living in health care facilities for eight months straight.

He’s finally well enough to continue his rehab at home, but his family is now facing another unexpected challenge: finding an affordable, accessible place to live in a city that’s facing a major housing crunch.

“It really puts people in a very precarious position when a tragedy like this happens to a family, in a city where we don’t have options for affordable housing,” says his mother Valika Kunkel, who raised her four children as a single mother and now lives on a fixed-income pension.

“It’s very stressful.”

Kunkel switched from St. Michael’s to Toronto Rehab in November, and was slated to be discharged back on Jan. 27.

On Monday, he’s moving to a long-term care facility, but is desperate to leave the health-care system ” longing for the comforts of home, including his dog, Noshi ” but he can’t move in with his mother or older sister, Kayla, because both live in apartment buildings that aren’t wheelchair accessible.

That’s left the family hunting for a rental unit that’s either on the ground floor or accessible by an elevator, with wide enough door frames to accommodate his wheelchair. It also needs to ideally cost close to $1,200 a month, all Kunkel has in income through the Ontario Disability Support Program.

With few options available, the whole family feels stuck ” and experts say they’re just one example of the ripple effect from Toronto’s housing shortage.

‘Hard to find’ affordable, accessible housing

“Individuals who have these complicated situations who need accessible housing, supportive housing ” we really can’t manufacture that from nowhere,” laments Dr. Mark Bayley, the medical director for the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.

While the hospital offers support workers and other services to help patients make the transition out, he stresses it’s a challenge when the housing they need is “very hard to find.”

Geordie Dent, executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, says the impact also goes well beyond health care.

“You’re seeing it in the system around incarceration. Our homeless shelters are bursting at the seams. You’ve got homeless camps all around the city right now,” he says. “It’s compounding, and hitting almost everything.”

In the Kunkels’ case, the intersection of accessibility needs and a tight budget is a perfect storm.

“There isn’t enough housing for them,” Dent explains, bluntly.

“Not every place in Toronto has been built to be accessible, and most are gobbled up because there’s such a high need.”

It’s a similar situation for other niche forms of housing.

More than 13,000 people are on the wait list for mental-health and addictions-supportive housing in Toronto, according to a 2018 report from the Canadian Mental Health Association, and over the two years prior, more than 4,000 new people applied while less than 600 were placed in suitable units.

Meanwhile the wait list for the city’s social housing is expected to jump from more than 90,000 to close to 120,000 by 2031, and potentially more than 135,000 a decade later.

‘It’s going to be really difficult financially’

Given the crunch, city officials are making strides toward providing more housing options; one new plan offers a roadmap for creating 600 units of supportive housing each year, which would offer wraparound services to ensure people are able to stay in their homes.

More broadly, Toronto’s $23.4 billion housing action plan aims to create 40,000 new affordable rental homes across the city.

“But that’s over a 10-year period, and that’s after decades of not doing much,” Dent says. “Really this stuff, historically, has come from the federal and provincial governments.”

There’s still little movement from those higher levels to actually build more units, he adds.

Despite a rising population across the GTA, one 2019 report from the Canadian Centre of Economic Analysis and the Canadian Urban Institute suggests the rental market hasn’t kept pace with the level of need.

Most of the city’s purpose-built rental housing, including social housing, was constructed during the “postwar rental apartment boom” of the 1960s and 1970s ” and more than 90 per cent of all available units were built before 1980.

This housing crunch is adding another layer of stress to an already-challenging situation, the Kunkels say.

“It’s going to be really difficult financially,” says 30-year-old Kayla, who plans on working part-time to become Patrick’s primary caregiver over the next few years. “I have no idea how this is going to work, in this city.”

Sitting near her brother on his hospital bed, she says the pair have always been close friends. The uncertainty of their future living situation, Kayla adds, follows the terror of nearly losing him after his stroke.

It hit both sides of his cerebellum ” the portion of the brain that controls movement and balance ” after he mixed alcohol with the acetaminophen and oxycodone-based painkiller Percocet. And it means life might always be more complicated, with lingering health impacts that might never go away.

Both Valika and Kayla want Patrick to feel at home again, but in the meantime, they’re simply thankful he’s still alive.

“I’m just grateful he’s come this far,” his mother says. “We just plow forward.”

Lauren Pelley can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]

About the Author

Lauren Pelley is a CBC reporter in Toronto covering city hall and municipal affairs. Contact her at: [email protected] @LaurenPelley

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Toronto Man’s Lawsuit Against Apple a Reminder That Disability Discrimination in Tech Still Happens, Says Employment Lawyer

Alex Coop
Alex Coop @ItsJustAlexCoop
Published: February 6th, 2020

Interacting with customers, fixing their devices, and getting a front-row seat to Apple’s latest offerings were a regular occurrence for Robert Shaw, who, until last summer, worked for the tech giant since 2011.

But now the 33-year-old is suing his former employer for lost wages and damages, alleging that Apple repeatedly refused to work on an individual accommodation plan with him and instead provided piecemeal solutions to his disability.

Shaw requires the use of a wheelchair, and as a former member of the technical support “Genius team ” the blue-shirted Apple experts who know the company’s products inside-out ” had made several requests once he was transferred to Apple’s Sherway Gardens store in Toronto late 2017. Before that, he worked in an Apple Store across town in Mississauga.

Shaw requested tables that were 30 inches off the ground, roughly five inches lower than the ones typically found in the store. Reaching up to handle products and addressing customer requests was an awkward motion that consistently put stress on his upper body. He said he was assured that, upon his arrival, the tables would be in place, and automatic doors would be installed so he wouldn’t have to wrench them open from his wheelchair.

Robert Shaw says he loves working with Apple products and helping customers but was frustrated by the Apple Store’s inaction towards specific accommodations that would have enabled him to do his work properly.

Four months passed at the Sherway Gardens Apple store, and none of his requests were addressed, he said. Instead, management experimented with small trays ” Shaw describes them as small TV trays ” that attached to his wheelchair. It took several months for the trays to arrive, and once they were installed, it was quickly apparent they weren’t going to work. The trays were unstable, and it didn’t solve the original problem of providing him with an adequate workspace that would allow him to work with large hardware.

“I couldn’t work with computers on that table,” he said.

Worse yet, the remote for the automatic doors malfunctioned once he started, and it took four months for the store to replace it, he adds.

He was increasingly confined to the back of the store where he performed repairs, unable to interact with customers. Eventually, the store installed new tables but they still failed to meet the height requirement.

The next day would be his final one at the Apple Store. During his final conversation with management last July, he said he was told the tables and the automatic doors were “Apple’s answer to sustainability”.

Apple declined to automate the four remaining doors due to the added expense, noted a Dec. 17 press release from Monkhouse Law, Shaw’s legal representation.

Apple did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Shaw said, for months, he felt like he was becoming an inconvenience to the rest of the employees at the store.

But he was convinced that he shouldn’t have had to feel that way.

“For a long time I felt like I was asking for too much and becoming a burden for the store,” he said, after describing the moment he finally decided enough was enough after management told him not to expect things to change.

“These aren’t things I should be asking for. That’s how I felt.”

In addition to shooting pains in his hands from the improper ergonomics that he’s had to treat with physiotherapy, the constant back-and-forth with management led to significant stress.

The stress has been reduced now that his story is public, said Shaw. The support from friends and family has been encouraging. But questioning his place at the store and feeling like a burden on others is not something he’s experienced elsewhere.

“I personally didn’t have that experience anywhere other than working with Apple,” he said.

But disability discrimination in the workplace is not only prevalent, but it’s also acceptable, according to half of Canadians. Half of the respondents in a 2015 survey by the Angus Reid Institute and the Rick Hansen Foundation noted that “it’s understandable” if businesses feel it’s risky to hire employees with disabilities.

Tech companies specifically have earned a reputation for being unwelcoming to those with disabilities and health issues. In 2015 The New York Times reported that multiple Amazon employees were given low-performance reviews or put on “performance improvement plans” after having cancer or significant surgeries. These plans are often a precursor to being fired.

There are 2.3 million people of all disability types in the Canadian labour force, according to Statistics Canada. More than 1 million of them have mobility issues.

Toronto employment lawyer Michael Cohen said Shaw’s story is a familiar one. He has been involved with similar cases, some involving the tech industry. Some of those stories are “crushing.”

“I’ve had a number of clients that have measured their ” whether we want to say this is the right way to view things or not ” self-worth largely by their contributions at the workplace,” he explains. “When that’s removed for something that is out of your control, beyond your means, you can struggle with that for a long time. It can be crushing to an individual. Some individuals require therapy, and sometimes they suffer a trauma that they never really get over.”

Shaw’s Claim also states that a senior manager told him at Apple that he wouldn’t be promoted if he continued to be unhappy in his role. The manager then allegedly suggested the company might not be the right place for him.

Cohen said Apple would have to focus its efforts on convincing everyone that the installation of new doors would have led to added risk or some physical burden on the store’s other employees if that’s the argument they make.

“I also don’t see how putting a handicapped symbol or button on a wall being aesthetically unpleasing. It’s efficient to get around the obligation to accommodate, mainly if it’s being raised that the remote is not working. If the accommodation that was once provided is repeatedly failing and there’s another option that’s used almost universally, I don’t know how one can argue that’s undue hardship.

“Often I find when I’m talking to a human resources department, I’ll tell them the human rights code says you have to accommodate to the point of undue hardship and in some instances we’ll get into a disagreement about what constitutes undue hardship in that particular case.”

Shaw’s defence told the publication that they’ve received a notice of intent to defend and a statement of defence.

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Student in Wheelchair Forced to Listen to Lecture From Top of Stairs

By Brinkwire on February 16, 2020

The University of Hull has launched an investigation after a disabled student shared a photo on Twitter showing how its lecture theatres are inaccessible for wheelchair users.

The photo shows Sarah-Marie Da Silva, a zoology student, sitting in the doorway of a lecture theatre which has no accessible ramp allowing her proper access to the room. She added in another Tweet: “As a wheelchair user, I don’t have any option , most days I don’t even have a desk.”

Da Silva told the Tab that the university has repeatedly failed to accommodate her disability.

The incident occurred last Friday, when she ended up stuck in the corner of the stairwell after realising there was no means for her to get down into the room.

“I turned and saw the stairs and panicked, I stopped,” she told the Tab. “The next 10 minutes was people arriving, them looking at me and then sometimes asking what was going on. I just told them I can’t get down and to just go past me.”

The first-year student said the problems started with her first lecture in September, in a lecture theatre where access to the room was at floor level.

“Everyone walked up the stairs to take their seats and I was left with nowhere to go ” no desk, no seats next to me for other students and I’m right next to the lecturer. I was made to feel like an ‘other’,” she said.

Da Silva told the Tab she had raised the issue “countless times”. But the student added that, while the university had made room changes for some of her lectures, she still repeatedly found they were held in inaccessible spaces.

“A lot of the time there are no desks for me. If there are, they’re moveable desks, but the wheels are always locked and I can’t bend down that far to unlock them, so everyone in the theatre looks on at me whilst I struggle to get a desk,” she told the Tab.

Dr Anji Gardner, Hull’s Director of Student Services, said: “We’re very sorry that this has happened, clearly it is not acceptable. We take these matters very seriously and are looking into what has happened.

“We are committed to working with our students to put in place any additional support or adjustments where needed. Unfortunately, it is clear this hasn’t happened in this case. We will immediately look into this and ensure that we take necessary steps to make sure this does not happen again.”

Piers Wilkinson, disabled students’ officer, for the National Union of Students, said: “Universities across the sector are still consistently failing to provide basic access for disabled students. Disabled students deserve inclusive access to the entire university experience, and that starts with being able to get into our lectures.”

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Sarnia Continuing With Accessibility Upgrades in 2020

Published on: February 14, 2020

Renovations creating a new entrance, adding accessible washrooms and an elevator at the downtown Sarnia Library are expected to wrap up soon, Sarnia’s accessibility co-ordinator says.
“We hit a little bit of a snag with the washrooms,” said Dale Mosley “Just some plumbing issues, but we’re back on track now so it should be done by, I’m thinking, the first week of March, the washrooms.”

The main entrance and elevators are on schedule to be finished next week in the $335,000 project that began last September, he said.

Those improvements are part of a handful of accessibility upgrades eyed in the city for 2020, including at least one audio signal for the visually impaired at a pedestrian crosswalk.

There’s $200,000 budgeted for installing the call signals that tell people with sight impairments when it’s safe to cross and speed up as time starts to run out similar to the visual flashing hand signal.

Mosley said he’s heard from residents they’d like to see one at Colborne Road and Cathcart Boulevard, but a committee is going to meet first to identify the greatest need, he said. It’s unclear yet how much it will cost per intersection, he said. “We’ll go one at a time and figure out from there how it’s going to work.”

Sarnia’s accessibility advisory committee, which works closely with Age-Friendly Sarnia, hosted an accessibility summit in 2019 and was included as part of a provincial accessibility committee. The committee and the city accomplished a lot during the year, including the installation of a bus stop at the Strangway Centre, the institution of lower fares for seniors on buses, hosting an Age-Friendly Expo, the launch of a home-share pilot matching students with seniors for light housework, new wayfinding signs downtown, and the addition of an accessible washroom at the Cox Youth Centre Pool and Splashpad, a recent report to council says.
“We continue to accomplish a lot of different things with accessibility in the City of Sarnia, and looking forward to 2020 where it looks like we’re going to be accomplishing more,” Mosley said.

A new ramp at the Lawrence House is planned, likely for the fall, Mosley said.

Unexpected complications with the work related to reconfiguring the way it drains caused the cost to increase and the planned 2019 project to be delayed, he said.

The amount budgeted in 2020 is $240,000, Mosley said, up from $100,000.
“As it turned out, the drain wasn’t where we thought it was going to go,” he said, meaning the whole parking lot has to be dug up to fix the issue.

The city also intends to install a launch for kayaks and canoes in Sarnia Bay that’s equipped with a stabilizer for the boats, handrails and a ramp, as well as plans to expand training for summer students on how to care for camp kids with disabilities and mental illnesses.

There’s $130,000 budgeted for an accessible washroom at the East Street fire hall, and preparations are underway to develop new guiding documents for accessibility and age-friendly initiatives before the end of the year when the current plans end, he said.
Committees for accessibility and Age-Friendly Sarnia will decide for how long to make those plans, he said.
“It might be three to five years, but both committees have to make that decision.”

The city is currently going out for tender for an architect for drawings for possible accessibility improvements at the Bright’s Grove Library.

How big that project will go Gallery in the Grove officials have suggested creating a community hub will depend on what council says when they get the report, Mosley said.

Another report, on the demand for accessible taxis in the city, is expected within the next couple of months, he said.

Feedback from the community has been solicited, he said, and there’s a meeting planned with local taxi company owners Feb. 25 at 5:30 p.m. in city hall committee room two.

The city’s annual accessibility awards are also expanding, he said. Nominations are now open year-round.
“Mostly to promote the awards just so we can get as many nominations as we did last year and keep that momentum going,” said Mosley, noting plans are also to periodically feature past winners.

Nine awards were presented in 2019.
This year’s are being presented Oct. 5, he said.

To make a nomination, visit

[email protected]

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‘There are No Rules’ When it Comes to Restaurant Accessibility in Halifax

Date prep takes on a whole different meaning for mobility device users in this city. By Abby Surrette

Abby Surrette says people with disabilities are expected to “hermit away,” but the reality is they live vibrant social lives.

It was date night. We’d called ahead and made our arrangements. We arrived at the restaurant early to avoid the crowds. Yet we were met with looks of uncertainty and a 10-inch step at the entrance. The server left to find a ramp; turns out the only one was the loading ramp to the kitchen. I would have accepted parading through the back, but my small-frame wheelchair couldn’t fit through the narrow, bustling kitchen.

Back at square one, several servers surrounded me and took hold of my chair to hoist it up the step. Despite my continued objections to this invasion of personal space, they insisted, “It’s no trouble at all!” Once airborne they realized the heavy ornate door actually swung outward, causing a flurry of commotion and shifting hands as they repositioned to fit through the now open doorway.

Several minutes later I had made it through the front door with only two near-drops and a hopefully buffable scuff on my wheelchair. Out of breath, the server insisted we let them know if there’s anything else they could do and left us to peruse our menus, which they’d left on the high-top table above my head. Even with prior warning of my arrival, and assurance of accessibility, this was the best solution their staff could offer.

While you might be inclined to think that this kerfuffle is the exception rather than the rule in Halifax, you’d be mistaken, because there are no rules. Currently Halifax has no municipal legislation in place regarding accessibility, meaning this restaurant had done everything by the book. On a provincial level, in 2017 the Act Respecting Accessibility in Nova Scotia was passed. While this is a step forward, it primarily focuses on public sector spaces, and even then those spaces have until 2022 to simply come up with a plan to improve. They have until 2030 before any of the accessibility requirements in the act will be enforced.

In the meantime new developments and private businesses are freely allowed to actively worsen accessibility in Halifax. Thirty percent of Nova Scotians currently identify as disabled, and if you’re lucky to live long enough, it’s inevitable that you will too.

If the goal is a barrier-free Nova Scotia by 2030, why are we allowing new barriers to be built in the meantime? Disabled people don’t just live in libraries and courthouses; they shop, they dine, they live their lives. Improving public spaces will be meaningless if private spaces are allowed to continue putting disabled people out of sight and out of mind. When you become disabled, do you intend to hermit away in your hopefully accessible home, never to be seen again unless you need a library book or have jury duty?

In the end, our date night ended shortly after appetizers, not because we weren’t hungry, but because I needed to pee and the bathroom was upstairs.

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