The County continued to provide training on the AODA and its Regulations, the Ontario Human Rights Code, and general accessibility and disability awareness to County of Simcoe employees. Records are kept on the completion of the training as per the legislative requirements. In 2022, 142 employees of the County completed all four modules of the Accessibility Training e-learning program. Additionally, 281 new employees completed the accessibility modules of the new employee orientation e-learning program.
Waste Cart Accommodation Process
In November 2021, the County introduced a new automated cart collection program that introduced new garbage, recycling and organics waste carts to residents of Simcoe County. While automated cart collection generally enhances accessibility to both residents and those providing collection, there were still some concerns expressed around the accessibility of the new waste carts. In February 2022, the Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee received and endorsed an updated application-based waste cart accommodation process to assist affected residents with waste collection. Upon receipt of an application, County staff work to assess the individual's needs and make appropriate recommendations toward their accommodation. Some of the employed accommodation options include:
- Providing reduced size carts to residents;
- Removing the waste cart lid or providing tools for opening for residents unable to operate them;
- Waiving tipping fees for directly dropping household waste off at a waste facility;
- Specialized semi-automated collection service.
Applications, and conditions do apply. Simcoe County Residents can learn more about the waste cart accommodation process by contacting Service Simcoe at (800) 263-3199.
Information and Communication
Accessible formats and Communication Support
The County of Simcoe continued to incorporate accessibility features into both internal and external documents created by its many departments. Considerations include font size and style, color contrast, spacing, use of white space, and use of formatting techniques such as bold, italics, underlining and use of capital letters. In addition, the County provided documents in alternative format and/or with communication support, upon request.
Due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, the County of Simcoe continued to live stream all Council and Committee of the Whole meetings. As restrictions were eased throughout the year, the County resumed in-person Council meetings in late 2022. However, Council meetings have continued to be live streamed to allow residents to continue to easily participate in Council meetings over the internet.
The County of Simcoe continued to utilize a software application called Siteimprove to regularly check the accessibility features of the public website, based on criteria set out in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). The County of Simcoe's Information Technology Department and web content contributors receive regular reports on the accessibility of their department's webpage including PDF documents. Siteimprove identifies any formatting or style errors on webpages as well as incorrect HTML codes and highlights those errors so they can be fixed.
Accessible Employment Policies and Procedures
The County of Simcoe maintained its compliance with the employment standard by monitoring and documenting employment policies and procedures, where required, to provide accommodations in all stages of employment, accessible formats and communications supports to employees, workplace emergency response information, return to work and related accommodation plans.
The County has continued to ensure its compliance with the Transportation Standards Regulation. This includes:
- Ensuring current information regarding specialized transit, conventional transit, routes and services available are posted for the public's information on the County's website.
- Awarding a contract to First Student through a competitive bid process. First Student employs the transit operators and is responsible for training all operators on the general accessibility training requirements as well as job-specific training for:
- The safe use of accessibility equipment and features;
- Acceptable modifications to procedures in situations where temporary barriers exist, or accessibility equipment on a vehicle fails;
- Emergency preparedness and response procedures that provide for the safety of persons with disabilities;
- Ensuring mobility aids and assistive devices are stored safely within reach of the person with the disability who uses the assistive device at no charge.
- The County has utilized existing bus stops when taking over already established routes, and the safety and risk analysis will begin in 2023.
- An application process for visitors to the County of Simcoe who wish to utilize specialized transportation services (LINX Plus) was implemented in 2018 and is being reviewed in 2023 as outlined in the Transportation Standards Regulation
- The Transit team created a draft of the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (ISAR) – Transit Polices. The policies, standards, and best practices provide a safe environment for all our passengers, operators, and contracted and county staff.
Use and Inspection of Accessible Vehicles at Long Term Care Facilities
The County continued to operate para-transit vehicles at the long term care facilities for resident transport. Inspection occurred regularly to ensure accessible and safe transport and to meet requirements of applicable legislation such as the Highway Traffic Act. Equivalent services are available upon request should the long term care vehicles not be accessible to all residents.
Simcoe County LINX and LINX+ Transit Service
The County of Simcoe continued to operate its conventional and specialized public transit system that links major urban hubs' local transit authorities with the County of Simcoe.
LINX continued to see a decline in ridership during the first half of 2022 and an increase in ridership in the year's second half.
- 2022 Ridership
- Conventional – 194,978
- Specialized – 1,072
As per the AODA, LINX Plus allows registered visitors from other municipalities to access LINX Plus services. Registered users of LINX Plus from Simcoe County also are provided with the benefit of accessing other specialized transit agencies' services throughout the GTHA through our Cross-Boundary agreements. Current partnerships include the City of Barrie, Orillia, York Region, TTC, and more.
LINX Plus now has a total of 230 registered riders as of December 31, 2022, which is expected to grow by another 75 or more registered riders in 2023. LINX Plus successfully introduced Blaise Transit software in 2022 that provides shorter, more flexible journeys to our specialized riders while decreasing costs through route optimization. The automated platform allows LINX Plus set up and manages our specialized transit service. The introduction of online booking will begin this spring. The software will also enable the transition to conventional micro-transit in the future if required.
From January 2022 to December 2022, 75 applications were received for specialized transit. This was the highest number of applications in a single year, an increase of almost 50 from 2021. In instances where applications were refused, County staff followed up with the applicant to make them aware of their status and to help them resubmit their application. Residents can learn more about the accessible transit service on the LINX+ accessible transit website.
During the pandemic, in-person training became problematic. Weekly online training was introduced for operators and mechanics with the following subjects covered during the year:
- Defensive driving
- Professionalism and Customer Service
- Conflict and Aggression Management
- AODA Compliance and Securements
- Mobility Device Securements
- Injury Prevention
The County took delivery of five conventional transit vehicles in 2022. All transit buses purchased meet the technical requirements under the Transportation Standards Regulation.
Design of Public Spaces (Built Environment)
Barrier-free Design Features in County Facilities
The County continued to incorporate accessible features in renovations and upgrades to facilities. Ontario Building Code requirements are followed, and consideration is given to barrier-free design features that improve accessibility for persons with disabilities.
Simcoe County Museum
In 2022, the Simcoe County Museum undertook an expansion of its trail network to include the Warbler Way Accessible Trail. This new trail added 2.6km of accessible trails to the Museum grounds to allow them to be enjoyed by a wide range of patrons and visitors. The trail design incorporated accessibility features such as wide, firm stable surfaces, informational signage, a maximum 5% grade and minimum clear widths of 1m in accordance with the Design of Public Spaces standards. The Accessibility Advisory Committee reviewed the design in Spring 2022 and construction was completed in January 2023.
The Museum also purchased two replacement accessible transportation vehicles for the Museum grounds. The new golf carts act as an assistive device for individuals with limited mobility looking to enjoy the Museum grounds.
In 2022, in-person facility reviews were resumed as pandemic related restrictions were relaxed. The Joint Accessibility Advisory Committee completed two facility reviews. One of the County of Simcoe Social Housing facility in Victoria Harbour on April 20, 2022 and one of the Township of Adjala-Tosorontio Municipal Offices on August 18, 2022. Committee members provided input on areas such as the accessibility of approaches and entrances, accessibility of goods, services, programs and activities, appropriateness of washroom facilities, and other accessible and communication.
This Accessibility Annual Status Report for 2022 will be available on the County of Simcoe's website and internal Intranet. Printed copies can be requested.
This document will be available in alternate format or with communication support, upon request.
The County of Simcoe welcomes all questions and comments on the 2022 Annual Status Report and accessibility matters in general. Please contact us.
To visit us in-person or for mailing, our address is:
County of Simcoe
1110 Highway 26
Midhurst, ON L9X 1N6
For specific inquiries related to Accessibility, call our Clerks Department on 705-726-9300 Extension 1305. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax us at 705-725-1285.
For general inquiries, call our Service Simcoe Contact Centre on 705-735-6901 or toll free on 1-866-896-9300.