City’s Disability Committee Concerned about Quality of Sidewalks and Transit Issues

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The City's Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities (ACPD) held their December meeting with two primary topics of discussion: sidewalk quality and accessibility, and ongoing attempts to correct issues with the Hamilton Street Railway.

Urban Braille

Committee members want the City to expand its installation of urban braille on sidewalks.

Urban braille are the textured marking on sidewalks that enable those with blindness or visual impairment to use a walking stick to feel the tactile patterns to safely navigate the sidewalks.

Hamilton's installation of urban braille is limited to the Business Improvement Areas and six downtowns across the region.

To some members of the Committee, this is not good enough. They formally requested an update from the City in regards to expanding urban braille as a standard for all new sidewalks.

A 2010 City staff report states urban braille sidewalks are 2.45 times more expensive than standard sidewalks.

Some members of the Committee suggest that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires urban braille as a standard for all new sidewalks.

The Ministry of Transportation's website showcases Hamilton as a best practice implementation of urban braille.

Transit

ACPD dealt with the ongoing problems with Hamilton's public transit agencies: DARTS and the HSR.

Both are chronically mismanaged, unreliable, and even worse for those with disabilities compared to able-body residents.

Whereas ACPD usually passes strong motions calling on the City to do better - the City is required to provide good service after a Human Rights case won by the ACPD -, they voted to invite new Transit Director David Dixon to a future meeting to discuss transit issues with them.

ACPD is looking to show good faith with the new Transit Director and appeared hopeful the new Director will work with them to improve DARTS and HSR service for persons with disabilities.

If Dixon chooses to work with ACPD, it will make a significant change in the City's relationship with those with disabilities.

ACPD next meets in January.

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