County of Simcoe plans to host workshop Oct. 26
Monday, October 4, 2021
The committee that provides guidance to the County of Simcoe to ensure facilities are designed to be accessible wants to know why it wasn’t asked for input prior to a decision to switch homes to larger waste collection containers.
Rosemont resident Doug Mein, 68, who has multiple sclerosis, has been chair of the joint accessibility advisory committee (JAAC) for the past eight years, and has been involved with the group even longer.
The committee has representatives from the county, along with residents with disabilities from the townships of Adjala-Tosorontio, Springwater, Tay and Oro-Medonte.
“I’m quite puzzled that they did not take advantage of consulting with the committee that they formed,” Mein said.
The committee’s main function is to provide input on site plans and drawings for new construction or major renovations to existing buildings owned or operated by the municipalities. It also does regular facility reviews of municipal offices, community centres, social housing, sports facilities and public transit.
According to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), municipalities must include people with disabilities in their planning processes to ensure barrier-free buildings, washrooms, parking, trails, signs and outdoor play spaces
Mein acknowledged garbage carts aren’t something the committee typically looks at, but it’s still baffling to him that nobody at the county thought it might be a good idea to talk to them about concerns with a one-size-fits-all approach for the new bins.
“Ontario has 1.65 million people with disabilities, and those people have one or more disabilities,” he said.
The wheeled bins for garbage, recycling and organics, which will be used when the new automated collection system begins Nov. 1, are much larger than the old containers. While the county says they will be easier to move than the old bins, Mein isn’t convinced.
He noted there are many people like him living in rural areas with long driveways. Mein’s gravel driveway is a couple of hundred feet long and inclines toward the road. His wife, Susan, is the one who takes the bins to the road, and she loads them into the back of their SUV to make the process easier. This won’t be possible with the new bins because they are too heavy for her to lift and, even if she could heave them up, they don’t fit in the trunk.
Mein said he wonders how a couple of his neighbours, who are in their 70s and use canes, will be able to get them roadside, especially in the winter. He said they will have no choice but to ask a neighbour for help, or hire someone to move the bins for them.
“For some people, it’s literally going to be impossible,” he said.
At the Sept. 14 county council meeting, collections manager Willma Bureau said consultation “wasn’t required” and that the county “went through a sufficient procurement process to ensure accessibility was considered in the process.”
In a written statement provided to Simcoe.com, the county’s director of solid waste management, Rob McCullough, said the county believes seniors and residents with limited mobility will “greatly benefit” from the new containers.
“Carts are easy to lean and roll, with ergonomic handles, lids and durable wheels,” he said. “The increased consolidated storage for recycling materials might also mean fewer trips to and from the curb in inclement weather, as households with smaller volumes of waste may choose to hold their materials over a few collection weeks and roll recycling out once a month.”
County council will take part in a workshop to discuss the garbage containers Oct. 26. McCullough said council will have a chance to consider offering smaller carts at some point in the future.
Mein just hopes the recommendation that comes out of the discussion is run past the JAAC for further input.