Local pressure appears to have resulted in temporary fix
News Feb 23, 2018 by Craig Campbell
Dundas Star News
Ontario’s Ministry of Government and Consumer Services has been encouraging the private operator of Dundas’ Service Ontario office at 17 King St. E. to improve accessibility, and local pressure appears to have resulted in at least a temporary fix.
Ministry spokesperson Harry Malhi said RFNX Management Inc., based in Guelph, can apply to the Accessible Improvement Program that Service Ontario offers. It provides capital funding for renovations related to improving physical accessibility and safety for people with disabilities. That includes installation of an automated door opener which the Dundas Service Ontario office does not have.
“While the decision to take part in the program is voluntary, we are strongly encouraging all providers, who would benefit, to take advantage of the opportunity to improve accessibility at their locations,” Malhi said.
As of Friday, Feb. 23, RFNX Management had not applied for funding. However, the ministry confirmed the location has started propping the door open during office hours to permit access. The door was propped open Thursday afternoon, Feb. 22, when a reporter visited. Local pressure appears to have resulted in that accommodation.
” I was stunned this was the government’s solution. What about the hundreds of other consumers that would benefit from having an accessible door? Mary Lawrence, Dundas resident ”
When Dundas resident Mary Lawrence, who gets around in an automated wheelchair, went to the Service Ontario office at 17 King St. E. in November to renew a handicapped parking permit, she discovered the main-floor door to Service Ontario closed and had no way to open it. Access to the building itself, which features other ground-floor offices and secure access to condominiums from King Street, is available through automated door opener buttons, but no such tool exists for the interior Service Ontario door.
When she asked about the accessibility issue, Lawrence said she was given the Service Ontario customer service phone number. She called and explained the issue, and asked for clarification of the province’s accessibility laws.
“I was then given the name and number of the office manager and told to phone before I went there again and they would look out for me to let me in to the office,” Lawrence said. “I was stunned this was the government’s solution. What about the hundreds of other consumers that would benefit from having an accessible door?”
Lawrence said she is not an active advocate for accessibility to all Dundas buildings.
“It’s not realistic and I choose to live in this beautiful town, with architecture that does not always make it possible,” she said. “What I do take issue with are buildings that can easily be made more accessible.”
She suggested Service Ontario should set an example in meeting provincial government accessibility standards. Lawrence sent her concerns to the ministry, local MPP Ted McMeekin and contacted the Dundas Star News, which also made inquiries into the Dundas location’s accessibility over the past two months.
Ted Davis, president of RFNX Management, did not respond to requests for comment.
Craig Campbell is a Reporter for the Dundas Star News. He can be reached at email@example.com