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Accessibility Challenges Still Ahead for Port Hope

January 22, 2010

-The Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) is asking for council’s assistance to make Port Hope a more accessible community for all who live there and for those who visit.

Selena Forsyth, chair of the committee, told council Tuesday that the AAC is very happy with the new accessible regular service buses in Ward 1.

“We also like the increase in hours and the return of the Rolls’ hours of service,” said Forsyth.

“All these improvements have been made possible by this council and it deserves congratulations.”

But the government of Ontario has passed legislation to make the province an accessible place for all Ontarians, she says. Regulations regarding customer service have already been issued, and next up will be the regulations on transportation.

“The municipality is going to be obliged to provide services for those unable to use the regular bus, perhaps as early as 2012,” Forsyth said. “We would like to see our municipality come in ahead of the curve on this: Port Hope, the caring community that provides mobility for all its citizens.”

People with disabilities can and do contribute to our economy; they work, shop, eat at restaurants, go to the movies or the theatre, pay taxes and vote, Forsyth said.

In a recent article about transportation, Jerry Ford wrote “life does not begin at 8 a.m. and end at 3 p.m.” -he was talking about Cobourg where, thanks to Ford’s efforts, transportation has improved for those with special needs.

However, two major problems continue to exist for municipal transportation for people with disabilities, Forsyth said.

In Ward 1 the bus service operates from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. On regular public transit, one can work in Port Hope, Ward 1 and reach most areas, or call a cab outside transit hours.

Municipalities that have restricted or no special needs transportation have been challenged by the human rights commission and have had to provide the service. A notable example of this is the city of Hamilton.

Residents of Ward 2 have no public transportation except for the limited use of the recently established Community Care van.

“The Accessibility Advisory Committee mandate covers special needs transportation,” Forsyth said.

“Our transportation subcommittee met recently and considered many options to recommend for the 2010 budget deliberations by council. We remind council that our community’s needs will increase with the constant increases in our aging population.”

Forsyth suggested a few ideas to expand the service including a fully accessible taxi service that would be available for both Ward 1 and 2 at a subsidized rate.

“Our committee also remains committed to urging the establishment of a coordinated county-wide system such as exists in Quinte and Durham,” Forsyth said.

“We are aware of your need to build this next budget in a frugal and responsible way,” said Forsyth.

“With respect to transportation, there is some really encouraging information and statistics available, prepared for the Cobourg situation by Jerry Ford.”

She says Ford advocates for accessible subsidized taxi service and maintains the costs are less than half of the municipally operated special needs transit systems.

The matter of extended hours and a taxi service provided by Van Taxi was discussed during the Jan. 12 budget meeting.

“Van Taxi’s cost is significantly lower than ours and they might be interested in taking over,” Councillor Ted Watts said.

“They are looking at purchasing more vehicles.”

The matter was referred to public works to prepare a report and return back to committee of the whole as soon as possible.


Article ID# 2272804

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