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McGuinty Government Posts a Draft Partial Built Environment Accessibility Standard to Address Barriers in Public Spaces, Not Inside Buildings

SEND THE GOVERNMENT FEEDBACK BY OCTOBER 1, 2012- STILL NO WORD ON WHEN AN ACCESSIBILITY STANDARD IS COMING TO ADDRESS BARRIERS IN BUILDINGS

August 16, 2012

SUMMARY

Late on August 15, 2012, the McGuinty Government posted on the internet, for public comment, a draft accessibility standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It is a partial Built Environment Accessibility Standard. It aims to address barriers impeding access to public spaces by persons with disabilities.

This draft accessibility standard does not address built environment barriers in buildings. It only addresses barriers in outdoor public spaces of new developments or major renovations. It does not address barriers in old or new buildings. It also does not address retrofitting of pre-existing barriers in outdoor public spaces where the public space is not being redeveloped.

You can download the text of the August 15, 2012 draft Public Spaces Built Environment Accessibility Standard Regulation by clicking here: http://www.aodaalliance.org/docs/Public-Spaces-Built-Environment-Accessibility-Standard-Regulation-draft.doc

Below we set out the text of the Government’s August 15, 2012 email to us about this, and its August 15, 2012 web posting on this.

We encourage one and all to review this draft partial Built Environment Accessibility Standard. Give the Government your feedback by the Government’s October 1, 2012 deadline. Also, let us know what you think of this draft accessibility standard so that we, as a volunteer community coalition, can benefit from your views as we formulate our input to the Government.

It is good that the Government has finally come forward with at least part of the overdue Built Environment Accessibility Standard in the form of a draft regulation, for public comments. Under provisions we fought for in the AODA, the Government must give the public 45 days to comment on a draft accessibility standard regulation before it can finalize it and enact it.

We still have no specific word from the Government on when it will bring forward its promised draft accessibility standard to address barriers inside buildings. That is a very central part of any effective Built Environment Accessibility Standard. One year ago, during the 2011 Ontario election campaign, Premier McGuinty promised to enact the Built Environment Accessibility Standard “promptly.”

Back on June 1, 2012, in our ongoing effort to get some action in this area, we wrote the Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Wynne and Community and Social Services Minister John Milloy (the latter of whom is responsible for the AODA) to ask for very specific answers and commitments on the Government’s plans for the promised Built Environment Accessibility Standard. To date, Minister Milloy has not answered us. On July 16, 2012, Minister Wynne wrote us, but provided no specifics in response to our requests.

Minister Wynne’s letter to us, set out below, makes undeserved self-congratulatory claims about her Ministry’s past work in this area. In fact, deficiencies over the years in the Ontario Building Code have contributed to the ongoing presence of barriers that persons with disabilities too often still encounter in the built environment. Had her ministry’s work on barrier-free building standards been as effective as Minister Wynne’s letter claims, her Government would not now still be unable to even tell us when it will bring forward the “inside buildings” Built Environment Accessibility Standard provisions for which her ministry has lead responsibility.

Minister Wynne’s letter also claims that the Built Environment Accessibility Standard is the final accessibility standard the Government will enact under the AODA. She wrote: “As you know, the Built Environment Accessibility Standard is the final standard to be regulated under the AODA.” Far from being something we “know,” this claim flies in the face of the Premier’s August 19, 2011 election commitment to work with us and others to identify additional accessibility standards that still need to be developed. In his August 19, 2011 letter to us, Premier McGuinty wrote: “It is a priority for us to enact the Accessible Built Environment standard promptly and responsibly. Having the first five accessibility standards under the AODA enacted will set a firm foundation for further progress on accessibility, and we look forward to working with Ontario’s accessibility communities and partners to identify the next standards that will move accessibility forward in our province.”

Section 7 of the AODA requires the Minister to oversee a process “to develop and implement all accessibility standards necessary to achieving the purposes of this Act.” Even after the Built Environment Accessibility Standard is enacted, there remains much more for the Government to do to develop all the accessibility standards needed to achieve a fully accessible Ontario by 2025. For more on our campaign to get the Government to develop more accessibility standards, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/07102012.asp

To see Premier McGuinty’s 2011 election promises to us on disability accessibility, visit http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/090220111.asp

The Government’s August 15, 2012 announcement regarding the Public Spaces Built Environment Accessibility Standard says that the Government is proposing to also make some amendments to the Integrated Accessibility Regulation which it enacted only 14 months ago, in June, 2012. We have not yet had a chance to fully review any of these proposals in detail. We had no prior notice that the Government was contemplating any amendments to the 2011 Integrated Accessibility Regulation. That regulation governs accessibility of transportation, employment, and information and communication. We will later address this new development.

Send us your feedback. Write us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

MORE DETAILS

When the Government developed and proposed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act back in 2003-05, it emphasized the importance of achieving a fully accessible built environment. Its public statements focused in significant part on the need for new construction to be fully accessible, and the need to tear down the many barriers that impede persons with disabilities in the existing built environment.

Fully two years ago, in the summer of 2010, the Government-appointed Built Environment Accessibility Standard delivered to the McGuinty Government its final proposed Built Environment Accessibility Standard. We have been pressuring the Government since then to come forward with a draft Built Environment Accessibility Standard regulation for public comment. To learn about the chronology of major events concerning development of the Built Environment Accessibility Standard, and the Government’s earlier promises to have this standard enacted by the end of 2010, visit: http://www.aodaalliance.org/strong-effective-aoda/07082011.asp

The Government decided to split the proposed Built Environment Accessibility Standard into two parts. One part would deal with public spaces outside buildings. The Ministry of Community and Social Services is leading that project.

The other part would deal with buildings and their interiors. The Government decided to assign lead responsibility for that project to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. It intends to incorporate accessibility requirements regarding the interior of buildings into the Ontario Building Code.

We remain frustrated that the Government is now only dealing with new construction and renovations to the existing built environment. It has not announced any specifics on how or when it plans to deal with retrofits of barriers in the existing built environment that are not undergoing any renovations. It has previously committed that it would eventually address those retrofits through the standards development process.

Below we set out:

* the Government’s August 15, 2012 email to the public announcing the public consultation on the draft Public Spaces Built Environment Accessibility Standard Regulation.

* the Government’s August 15, 2012 website posting announcing this public consultation, and

* the July 16, 2012 letter to the AODA Alliance from the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

We anticipate that as in the past, the Government will only keep this draft regulation posted during this consultation period. It has in the past rejected our requests that it keep such key documents publicly posted on a permanent basis. To fill this gap, we will keep this draft regulation permanently posted on our website.

*****

TEXT OF AUGUST 15, 2012 EMAIL TO THE PUBLIC FROM THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT ON THE POSTING FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS OF THE DRAFT PUBLIC SPACES BUILT ENVIRONMENT ACCESSIBILITY STANDARD

Ministry of Community and Social Services
Accessibility Directorate of Ontario
6th Floor, Suite 601a
777 Bay Street
Toronto ON M7A 2J4

Proposed Amendment to the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 – Design of Public Spaces (Accessibility Standards for the Built Environment)

As per section 39 of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, the Government is seeking public comment on the proposed amendment to the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (Ontario Regulation 191/11). The amendment includes accessibility standards for the Design of Public Spaces (Accessibility Standards for the Built Environment) and housekeeping amendments to the regulation.

From August 15, 2012 to October 1, 2012, the proposed amendment to the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation will be available for public review and comment on the Ministry of Community and Social Services’ website, the Regulatory Registry of Ontario, and the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry.

The ministry’s website can be accessed through the following link: http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/accessibility/built_environment/index.aspx

All comments will be considered as part of the process of finalizing the regulation.

All the documents posted are available in alternate formats. Requests for alternate formats and all other inquiries about this posting should be directed to:

E-mail: designofpublicspaces@ontario.ca
Telephone: 416-326-0207 / 1-888-520-5828
TTY: 416-326-0148 / 1-888-335-6611
Fax: 416-325-9620

Thank you.

*****

TEXT OF THE AUGUST 15, 2012 POSTING ON THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT WEBSITE ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITY FOR PUBLIC COMMENT ON THE GOVERNMENT’S DRAFT PUBLIC SPACES BUILT ENVIRONMENT ACCESSIBILITY STANDARD

URL (at the time of this AODA Alliance Update) http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/accessibility/built_environment/index.aspx
Design of Public Spaces in the Built Environment
The draft standards are now available for public review and comment.
We invite you to review the draft standards and provide us with your comments.
You have until October 1, 2012 by emailing designofpublicspaces@ontario.ca.
Read the highlights of the draft standards.
The goal of the Accessibility Standards for the Built Environment is to remove barriers in public spaces and buildings. This will make it easier for all Ontarians — including people with disabilities, seniors and families — to access the places where they work, travel, shop and play.
The standards for public spaces will only apply to new construction and planned redevelopment.
Enhancements to accessibility in buildings will happen at a later date through Ontario’s Building Code, which governs new construction and renovations in buildings.
What the standards cover
Here are the highlights of what the standards for public spaces will cover:
* Recreational trails/beach access routes Example
Meet minimum requirements for trails and beach access routes (i.e. clear width), post signs with specific information at the start of trails
* Outdoor public-use eating areas like rest stops or picnic areas Example
Provide a minimum number of accessible tables
* Outdoor play spaces, like playgrounds in provincial parks and local communities Example
Consult with people with disabilities to help to incorporate accessibility for children and caregivers with various disabilities into play spaces
* Exterior paths of travel, like sidewalks, ramps, stairs, curb ramps, rest areas and accessible pedestrian signals Example
Meet minimum requirements for sidewalks (i.e. clear width), install accessible pedestrian signals at intersections
* Accessible parking (on and off street) Example
Make four percent of spaces accessible in new lots with 25-500 parking spaces
* Service-related elements like service counters, fixed queuing lines and waiting areas Example
Have a minimum of one accessible counter when providing services to the public
* Maintenance Example
Make sure accessibility-related equipment and features are maintained
The standards will apply to:
* Ontario government
* broader public sector (e.g. universities, hospitals, municipalities)
* private and not-for-profit sector organizations.
The draft standards also propose minor technical amendments to the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation to:
* clarify some of the requirements
* make it easier for organizations to implement them
The draft standards are also posted on the Government of Ontario’s:
* Regulatory Registry
* Environmental Registry
 
*****

JULY 16, 2012 LETTER TO THE AODA ALLIANCE FROM KATHLEEN WYNNE, MINISTER OF MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS AND HOUSING

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Office of the Minister
777 Bay Street, 17th Floor
Toronto ON M5G 2E5
Tel. 416-585-7000
Fax 416-585-6470
www.ontario.ca/MAH

July 16, 2012

Mr. David Lepofsky
Chair
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance
aodafeedback@gmail.com

Dear Mr. Lepofsky:

Thank you for your letter – also addressed to the Honourable John Milloy, Minister of Community and Social Services – regarding the development of the Built Environment Accessibility Standard.

We appreciate the AODA Alliance’s continued participation in, and contribution to, the government’s efforts to achieve an accessible Ontario by 2025. The task is large and challenging; it requires the input of numerous stakeholders like the AODA Alliance if success is to be achieved.

As you know, the Built Environment Accessibility Standard is the final standard to be regulated under the AODA. It is the largest and most complicated standard requiring the cooperation of both the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Our work has been greatly advanced by the noteworthy contribution of the Accessible Built Environment Standard Development Committee.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has a long history of contributing to an accessible built environment through Ontario’s Building Code. We have set increasingly rigorous requirements for barrier-free design since 1975. Moreover, Ontario’s Building Code has been, and continues to be, a leader among Canadian building codes, including the model National Building Code.

Currently, ministry staff are developing recommendations for potential Building Code changes based on the Final Proposed Standard, and we expect this information to be made available in the coming months. Any proposed changes to the Building Code will be made available to all Ontarians as part of a public consultation. The consultation will include an explanatory document that outlines the proposed changes in plain language. Once this is complete, the Ontario government will decide which requirements will be proposed as regulations and when they will come into force.

Once again, thank you for your input and continued engagement. I look forward to further dialogue with you on this matter.

Sincerely,

Kathleen Wynne
Minister

c: The Honourable Dalton McGuinty
Premier of Ontario
The Honourable John Milloy
Minister of Community and Social Services

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