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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Sarnia This Week: Year In Review

Postmedia Staff
Published on: January 16, 2020

A new, accessible playground, the first of its kind in Sarnia, opened at Canatara Park in early December.

More than a playground, the wheelchair-accessible play structure atop a poured-in-place rubber base, also features nearby benches with built-in games tables, a stage area for theatre beside the existing picnic pavilion, and exercise equipment.

“We just wanted to create a space that, whether you’re playing or a caregiver here to watch their kids play, there’s something to do,” said city recreation and planning manager Ryan Chamney.

The project cost roughly $335,000, and was partly funded with $80,000 and $90,000 in total from all three of Sarnia’s Rotary clubs.

“We got a lot for what we spent,” said Chamney.

The Canatara Park ” Rotary Clubs of Sarnia Accessible Playground and Community Hub project is step one of nine in accessibility upgrades eyed for playgrounds in various city parks, he said.

Tecumseh Park is up next. Work is planned to start there later in 2020 and likely wrap up in 2021, Chamney said.

The Sarnia-Lambton Centre Communautaire Francophone unveiled its newly upgraded kitchen facilities on Dec. 6, a project completed thanks to a $133,500 capital grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey joined community centre staff, contractors and a contingent of students from the neighbouring St. Francois Xavier Secondary School to formally open the kitchen during a launch-and-lunch recognition ceremony.

The centre’s newly refurbished and enlarged kitchen, which includes a brand new stove, a state of the art dishwashing station, new cabinets and a special range hood designed to address air circulation issues, will allow far more people to access the wide variety of cooking classes offered at the centre, said community centre president Tanya Tamilio.

After the grant was approved, local contractors got to work in order to make the facility much more accessible for teaching purposes and more amenable for hosting larger community events such as holiday celebrations, baby showers or weddings, Tamilio said.

“Our old kitchen was more of a residential-type kitchen, so we couldn’t really do cooking courses in there ” we had to bring in tables and put them outside of the kitchen just to hold classes,” she said. “This permits everyone to be back inside the kitchen.”

Whether the new kitchen’s users are St. Francois Xavier students simply learning how to make healthy after-school snacks or new mothers learning the ABCs of cooking for their newborns, the refurbished kitchen will definitely serve many needs within Sarnia-Lambton, Tamilio said.

In December, it was announced that transportation company Voyago had been selected for an intercity bus service contract between Sarnia, Strathroy-Caradoc and London which was set to begin in April 2020.

The service, completely funded until 2023 through a $1.45-million Ontario Community Transportation grant, is set to run three round trips daily, five days a week ” and two round trips per day on weekends ” using accessible 20-foot buses with 20 to 25 seats.

The London-founded bus company formerly known as Voyageur ” acquired by Transdev Canada in April” beat out about five other bidders for the route that will also include stops in Komoka and Mt. Brydges.

“It came down to I’d say a combination of experience, and then, within the budget, getting as many round trips as possible at the times we think the service will be utilized,” Makrakos said about Voyago’s selection.

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Sarnia Facing Human Rights Complaint

Tyler Kula
Updated: October 10, 2018

The City of Sarnia is embroiled in a Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario case after a resident filed a complaint over an alleged lack of accessibility at city hall.

“I wrote a letter to the mayor and council last February complaining about the washroom on the main floor of city hall. It wasn’t accessible,” said Sandi Compagnion, who uses a wheelchair.

She was questioning one of the local candidates for mayor at a municipal election debate Tuesday.

“I couldn’t get in and I couldn’t open the door,” she said. “I had to have someone come and open the door for me, hold the door so I could get in. Then they had to wait outside while I went to the bathroom to let me out.

“That was pretty demeaning and humiliating.”

Compagnion said she was told by city CAO Marg Misek-Evans and Brian White, council representative on the accessibility committee, they’d look into whether funding was available for accessibility upgrades,

“Well, eight months later, after I filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, guess what? They’re having power doors in that washroom as of Oct. 11,” Compagnion said.

A report this month from accessibility co-ordinator Dale Mosley said $20,000 to upgrade the washroom door and several entrances to the building was made available after plans for accessibility improvements at the Sarnia Library were postponed, amid no bids from contractors.

Compagnion declined to specify when she filed her complaint, as the case is still before the tribunal, but Jim Crawford, Sarnia’s manager of human resources, said the complaint was registered in May.

The door upgrades should be done this week or next, he said, and a summary hearing at the tribunal is scheduled for February.

“I’d love to resolve it beforehand, but that unfortunately is not in our purview,” he said. “It has to do with whatever the complainant wants to do.”

Compagnion’s accessibility complaint extends to other aspects of city hall, he said, but wouldn’t specify because of the ongoing case.

But the human rights complaint didn’t influence the city’s decision to add power doors at city hall, he said.

“There was no direct relation.”

Money had already been slotted for improvements at the library and the accessibility committee’s original decision was to stick with that approach, he said.

The lack of bids for the library work changed things, he said, adding city hall is “fully compliant with the Ontario Building Code and any other legislation dealing with accessibility issues,” including the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

White said he presented Compagnion’s concerns to the committee immediately and invited her to speak to the committee twice. She declined, he said.

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