Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee Tells Ottawa City Council Not to Again Allow Electric-Scooters Which Endanger People with Disabilities, Seniors and Others – Shows Importance of Mandatory Municipal Accessibility Committees

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities Website: https://www.aodaalliance.org
Email: aodafeedback@gmail.com
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July 10, 2024

SUMMARY

Let us continue to catch you up on developments around Ontario in our ongoing nonpartisan campaign for accessibility for over 8 million people with disabilities in Canada. Here are a couple that seem unrelated, but they are actually very related:

1. On June 21, 2024, the City of Ottawa’s Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee voted to recommend that Ottawa stop its pilot that allows e-scooters. E-scooters endanger people with disabilities. We heartily congratulate that Accessibility Advisory Committee and its member Wayne Antle. He is a superb disability rights advocate and the driving force behind this motion.

The Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee had earlier recommended against e-scooters, a recommendation that Ottawa City Council ignored. Last year, without inviting any public input, the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee withdrew its earlier strong opposition to e-scooters. In Wayne Antle’s most recent motion, Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee went back to its original position of opposing e-scooters. You can read that recommendation below.

This matters for two reasons! First, the e-scooter corporate lobbyists repeatedly point to Ottawa as the gold standard that supposedly proves that e-scooters pose no dangers to people with disabilities and others. The Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee’s new recommendation slams the door on their bogus claims.

Second, last summer when Toronto City Council was considering lifting its ban on e-scooters, City Councillor Dianne Saxe was echoing some of the claims that the e-scooter lobbyists had earlier made in support of e-scooters. When AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky appeared at the City of Toronto Infrastructure and Environment Committee on June 28, 2024, he presented our argument against e-scooters as endangering people with disabilities, seniors and others. Councillor Saxe challenged him on this, relying on the fact that the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee had earlier that year withdrawn its opposition to e-scooters. Yet the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee had already itself made strong recommendations against allowing e-scooters.

Thankfully, Toronto City Council eventually voted to leave the ban on e-scooters in place, though Toronto is still failing to effectively enforce that ban. However, thanks to Wayne Antle and the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee, no Toronto City Council member can throw in our faces a contrary and, with respect, wrong-headed earlier pro-e-scooters recommendation by the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee.

2. According to a June 19, 2024, CBC news report, also set out below, there seems to be controversy over whether the City of Sudbury now has in place a Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee, as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires. If it does not, then it is in violation of provincial legislation. We need the Ontario Government to enforce the law.

There are so many accessibility barriers all around Ontario. The Ford Government has failed for over a year to address or even acknowledge Ontario’s accessibility crisis about which the Government-appointed Rich Donovan AODA Independent Review warned. More than ever, we need strong and effective Accessibility Advisory Committees in every city and town with at least 10,000 residents.

What You Can Do to Help

If you are a member of a Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee or a school board’s Special Education Advisory Committee, we have helpful tips for you on how to effectively advocate for people with disabilities. Check out the AODA Alliance’s captioned online video giving action tips to members of Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committees and local Special Education Advisory Committees. Do you know people who sit on one of those committees? Tell them to watch the AODA Alliance video that we made just for them!

Let us know what you do. Write us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

MORE DETAILS

Accessibility Advisory Committee
June 18, 2024 Motion Passed by the Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee

Re: Motion e-scooters

Moved by: Member Wayne Antle

WHEREAS, in Ontario, the use of e-scooters is prohibited, subject to any pilot projects adopted under O. Reg. 389/19 Pilot Project Electric Kick-Scooters;

WHEREAS the Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) has been actively engaged on the City of Ottawa’s shared Electric Kick Scooter Pilot in Ottawa, including during the 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 pilot projects;

WHEREAS the AAC had, based on the results of the 2020 and 2021 pilot projects, passed a motion (AAC 2022 1/20) advising City Council:

A. not to conduct any more pilots that would allow e-scooters to be used in any public places in Ottawa, whether the e-scooter is owned by, borrowed by, or rented by the rider; and
B. to decline any further participation in O.Reg 389/19 Pilot Project Electric Kick-Scooters.

WHEREAS the AAC had subsequently passed a motion (AAC2023-01-01) which rescinded Motion AAC 2022 1/20, and further stipulated:
THAT the AAC supports the continuation of the City of Ottawa’s shared Electric Kick Scooter Pilot, provided that the pilot:

A. Only allows the use of shared e-scooters provided by qualified providers;
B. Requires qualified providers to use accessibility barrier-preventing technologies on their shared e-scooters; and

C. Dedicates adequate resources to monitoring and enforcing the rules of the pilot, including a fifteen-minute response window for complaints, and adequate deterrents and consequences for misuse of e-scooters.

WHEREAS the AAC based this motion on the fact that the technology on shared e-scooters eliminated the accessibility barriers by preventing improper parking and sidewalk riding, and included sound emission that would alert pedestrians of their approach;

WHEREAS this motion was passed without any input from public delegations, unlike the previous motion recommending against e-scooters;

WHEREAS there have been numerous reports of sidewalk-riding, improperly parked e-scooters, and e-scooters not emitting a sound that could be heard above the noise of city traffic reported to blind and partially-sighted stakeholder groups;

WHEREAS the City’s own report on the 2023 pilot notes that more than half of all survey respondents encountered improperly parked e-scooters, and users riding e-scooters along sidewalks and further recognizes that only 4% of respondents took the time to report rule infractions to the City;

WHEREAS there is growing evidence, based on the above, that the barrier prevention technology is not as effective as the e-scooter providers indicate, and e-scooters continue to pose a threat to disabled, elderly, and vulnerable pedestrians;

BE IT RESOLVED that the AAC rescind Motion AAC2023-01-01; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that:

A. the AAC express to City staff and City Council that they no longer uphold their support for the continuation of the e-scooter pilot, and further express their very serious concern over the safety issues posed by e-scooters, both shared and privately-owned, to persons with disabilities, elderly and all vulnerable pedestrians;

B. The AAC advise City staff to make it easier to report non-compliance and actively encourage all people who witness improperly parked e-scooters or e-scooters riding along the sidewalks to report this to the city;

C. The AAC advise City Council to be prepared to stop the pilot if e-scooter riders continue to demonstrate that they are not operating the e-scooters in accordance with the rules and continue to pose a serious safety risk.

CBC News June 19, 2024

Originally posted at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/accessibility-committee-1.7239681

Sudbury doesn’t have an accessibility advisory committee. Here’s why some residents hope to Residents asking the city to replace Accessibility Advisory Panel with a committee

Rajpreet Sahota CBC News
A woman in a blue dress stands in front of a door with a red walker.

Nadine Law is a Sudbury resident living with a physical disability and the regional client services co-ordinator for Spinal Cord Injury Ontario.

A Sudbury resident living with a physical disability says the city needs to create a municipal accessibility advisory committee whose work is open and transparent.

Nadine Law, the regional client services co-ordinator for Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, said she fell and broke her back in 2019. She then discovered she developed an autoimmune disease that affected her mobility. Due to another fall last year, Law has been forced to use a walker, or what she calls her “hot wheels,” full time.

But it wasn’t her mobility issues that inspired her to speak on the lack of accessibility in Greater Sudbury. She said her son and former partner both have physical disabilities, which led her to join Greater Sudbury’s Accessibility Advisory Panel in 2018.

She said it was a chance to share her concerns with city staff. One of those was the lack of barrier-free washroom facilities at city hall in 2018.

“Issues that I’ve brought up years past, there is no record of it, and for example, my addressing the issue with not having a universal washroom in 2018,” said Law.

Now, Law is pushing for the city to consider replacing the Accessibility Advisory Panel with a municipal accessibility advisory committee.

“By having a committee, we’ve got the minutes, we’ve got this published, there’s that transparency. This is what we need.”

‘Opacity and ableism on our city’s part,’ says Sudbury accessibility activist
Nadine Law is a Sudbury resident living with a physical disability and the regional client services coordinator for Spinal Cord Injury Ontario. She is pushing for the city to consider replacing the Accessibility Advisory Panel with a municipal accessibility advisory committee.
At the May 28 council meeting, Eric Labelle, city solicitor and clerk at the City Of Greater Sudbury, was asked about the city’s choice to not have a committee. He pointed to Ontario’s Municipal Act. It defines a committee as a group composed of 50 per cent of members of council or board members with the city. He said this contradicts the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act that requires the formation of an accessibility advisory committee composed of a majority of members being persons with disabilities. Thus, the city decided to create an accessibility panel instead of a committee.

Honestly, it looks like opacity and ableism on our city’s part. – Nadine Law
In response to the city, Law said staff have shown a persistent failure to prioritize accessibility for its aging and disabled population. She said they’ve managed to avoid transparency and accountability to taxpayers.

According to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, a committee is required by law to provide and publish regular progress reports. This will ensure concerns are written down and made public to increase transparency and accountability for the city, Law explains.

She points to accessibility advisory committees in North Bay, Timmins and Sault Ste. Marie. For all three of these cities, the committee membership is made up of a majority of community volunteers living with a disability and two council members or city staff.

Diane Morrell, the accessibility co-ordinator in Sault Ste. Marie, said the committee has helped address barriers for people with disabilities.

“I would say it’s a very collaborative approach. Every city is supposed to be consulting with the community and an accessibility advisory committee,” she explained. “The advice that the committee provides to council weighs fairly heavily with them.”

A blonde woman wearing black glasses sitting behind a laptop.
Ward 7 Coun. Natalie Labbée says she heard many people with disabilities who were frustrated over the city minimalizing the issue. (Aya Dufour/CBC)
Greater Sudbury Coun. Natalie Labbée first approached the issue at the May 28 council meeting.

“When you look on the website for the province that we’re not listed as a committee. We are such a big city and such a presence in northern Ontario. Maybe we could relook at that, just if it’s a naming thing, I just would like us to be more official.”

Labbée said she doesn’t understand why there’s so much resistance from city staff.

“There’s been mistakes made where it’s cost the city a lot of money. I would think that putting this in place and formalizing it would be an important step to prevent that from happening again.”

Labbée said she’ll keep working with residents to push for a change in the name.

“I really feel that if people are coming to us expressing that they are concerned about it being a panel and not a committee, then for us as able bodied people thinking, I know it’s semantics, who cares if it’s called a committee or panel? If it’s important to those people, then we have a responsibility to listen.”