Amherstburg Fire Department Website Issues

Privacy and Accessibility are two concerns when using the Amherstburg Fire Department website.

Privacy

The site lacks a Notice of Collection and use of personal information.

Section 29(2) of the provincial MFIPPA Act state that when collecting personal information, unless an exception applies, an institution must provide the individual to whom the personal information relates with notice which includes specific details on the following three requirements:

    • the legal authority for the collection;
    • the principle purpose(s) for which the personal information is intended to be used;
    • the title, business address and telephone number of a person employed by the institution who can answer questions about the collection.

In response to a concern that personal information was shared with unaffected parties, Fire Chief Montone stated, “When you make an inquiry to my office, I have always, and will always include members of my staff and the corporation I represent who are very aware of the confidentiality and sensitivity required and expected…”

Accessibility

As for accessibility issues, Aaron Peterson, Web & Print Boutique responded, “The website passed WCAG Level AA when we built it.”

Paula Parker and John Miceli mentioned third party vendors at a September 14, 2020 council meeting, In response to a request for a list of vendors Ms. Parker stated, while this review is underway and not yet complete, I cannot at this time provide a thorough list.  A report is expected to be available in 2021 with suggestions from Administration for efficiencies in service delivery and a streamlined approach to web content delivery.”

An FOI request on the matter is outstanding.

Unblocked Access to Canada Post: Councillor Marc Renaud on Open Air Complaint

All members of council were asked, How necessary is it to block access to the post office during the open air weekends? Isn’t the post office an essential service as opposed to a retail establishment? It’s especially important for use by persons with disabilities; I’m not sure if you considered that, seeing as only one person with a disability was consulted.

Only Councillor Marc Renaud responded: I have been downtown for most open air weekends. There is unblocked access to Canada post parking at Precision Jewellers.

Follow up comments with further questions: You must have not witnessed an enthusiastic crossing guard on Friday afternoon stopping traffic from travelling west of Ramsay Street to park in front of the post office or the jewelry store. You also might not have seen an irate driver squeal his tires as he left the area after she stopped him.

Your personal anecdote offers little to address a very important issue regarding the controversial open air weekends. Given that the mayor confirmed only one person with a disability was consulted, i’m not assured that accessibility is a priority.

Perhaps you could explain why accessibility features, now being considered in this evening’s report, were not included at the time of procurement and renovations for the community hub? Did the AAAC inspect the site plans? With regard to spending taxpayer dollars, the tenants are equally liable for half the accessibility expenditures so why are taxpayers being asked to pay their share?

No one responded to date.

This week’s River Town Times article on a new Open Air survey reports that this year traffic is blocked off on Richmond Street from Ramsay to Dalhousie Street. Therefore, access to Canada Post is blocked.

Court Hearing Lepofsky v. Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho September 27

Monday September 27, 2021 10 AM Court Virtual Hearing Livestream: Blind Disability Advocate David Lepofsky Argues Disability Rights Case Against Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho

September 24, 2021 Toronto: On Monday, September 27, 2021 at 10 a.m., the Divisional Court of Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice will hold a public virtual hearing for the oral argument of a case brought by blind lawyer, law professor, and volunteer disability rights advocate David Lepofsky, chair of the AODA Alliance, against Ontario’s Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, the Honourable Raymond Cho. In Lepofsky v, Cho,. Lepofsky asks the Court to issue a declaration that Minister Cho violated section 10(1) of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). This is the first time someone has gone to court to contest the sufficiency of the Ontario Government’s implementation of the AODA, and to get a judicial interpretation of the AODA.

The case is scheduled for about two hours. It will be livestreamed to the public on Youtube at https://youtu.be/LuD6fKu0dlE As far as is now known, it will only be available online for livestreaming in real time.

Full press release at aoda alliance site.

Wants vs. Needs

Commentary by Linda Saxon submitted to the River Town Times in response to the article “Local business owners adding new building to portfolio.”

While I appreciate Richard Peddie’s enthusiasm for ‘what historic Amherstburg once looked like,’ I disagree that ‘the town is not investing enough in heritage.’

The town was so committed to heritage that it remained silent throughout my ten-year campaign to make the Carnegie library accessible. The library retrofit cost continued to rise over a decade, as did legal fees for the town to resist any library changes. The Ontario Human Rights Commission highlighted the case in its Annual Report and the town credited others with my accomplishment.

In addition to ignoring my requests, the town disregarded funding initiatives that prioritized accessibility. When I questioned the marina, instead of changing the priority project to the library, the town withdrew its application.

In 2001, I requested that council include accessibility in the tender for library repairs; Instead, the town donated $710,000 for a replica of the HMS Detroit, for which taxpayers incurred a 9% tax hike over a two-year period.

The town attracted negative attention when it circulated its council resolution throughout the province to request an extension to the accessible website deadline that it knew about for several years. I had been requesting the town make its website accessible since 2001, along with other items that would have increased accessibility, but they were received, noted and filed.

Shamefully, only one person with a disability was consulted about the Open Air weekends and the town placed accessible parking in an unsafe location.

More recently, administration recommended an over-expenditure of salary and benefits expenses in the Clerks Budget Centre for additional staff overtime to deal with advisory committee commitments and AODA compliance. There were no details in the report so I can only wonder why AODA compliance was not routinely incorporated without overtime.

Too often heritage takes precedence over accessibility; sometimes accessibility is not even incorporated in the initial planning stages, all of which is contrary to the human rights code. Not everyone is aware that heritage buildings can be made accessible.

I do not believe that heritage should be ‘referenced in the budget.’ Elected officials have human rights obligations and must consider the health, safety and well-being of the community they serve, and provide services and things that the municipality is authorized to provide.

Committees, Consultation and COVID: Council Agenda item

Members of council were asked two simple questions two weeks ago re accessibility concerns of Open Air weekends:

  1. why was accessibility not considered during the decision making process?
  2. why was the accessibility advisory committee not consulted for input?

This post addresses the second question and the answer that followed, in part, by Mayor DiCarlo, the only member of council to respond:

“The AAAC was not consulted with respect to Open Air Weekends because the AAAC and many other committees were and still are not functioning due to COVID.”

Paula Parker, in a memo on council’s April 26 Agenda states, “Council continues to be advised on matters of accessibility, equality and inclusivity by the Amherstburg Accessibility Advisory Committee.”

Now a new committee is being recommended: a special purpose Ad-hoc Committee, the Inclusive Community Program (ICP) Advisory Steering Committee to “help Amherstburg to become an age-friendly community by ensuring that the needs of the residents of all ages and abilities are considered in every stage of community planning and development.”

There are plans to hire a consultant: “approval is requested for an over-expenditure in the CAO’s Office budget centre professional fees expense account for up to $60,000 including net HST to fund consulting services for development of the Needs Assessment and Action Plan; this cost would be funded by the ICGP.” 

The report’s RISK ANALYSIS section includes, “Administration is of the opinion that all advisory meetings should resume through the Town’s zoom meeting platform” and “Should Council wish not move forward with this engagement solution for advisory committees, it may result in political criticism.” (report’s typo)

Should administration include consideration of political risk when it provides advice or recommendations to council?

A request for the grant application was submitted.

More to follow.

Open Air Amherstburg Access Questioned

This opinion by Linda Saxon was published in the River Town Times, March 31, 2021.

RE: Open Air Weekends Approved March 24, 2021

It was interesting to read about the variety of ideas that might possibly entice visitors or change the purpose of the weekend events.

The article mentioned, “Councillor Marc Renaud said there is a lot of parking a short walk from the downtown core, noting many will walk to and around shopping malls.”

In a report to council, Anne Rota and Nicole Rubli noted what the transportation planners suggest is an acceptable range of walking distance for retail, employee and special event parking.

The figures mirror those in an article originally published in 1994 when the authors discussed conditions that should be taken into account to determine how far people using parking garages should be asked to walk. It was determined that there was a lack of consensus for what is considered maximum walking distance.

The report mentions beliefs, perception and“the travel distance acceptable to an individual is contingent on an individual’s willingness to walk.” Transportation studies mention a willingness to walk in terms of close proximity to transit.

Notably absent was any reference to accessibility guidelines or consultation with residents with disabilities and the Amherstburg Accessibility Advisory Committee which has a mandated duty to advise council about the requirements and implementation of accessibility standards.

A separate report to council regarding accessibility requirements noted, “no consultation with the committee was possible at this time” due to COVID, yet the committee met previously during COVID on zoom, as has council.

Given mandatory training on the human rights code and accessibility legislation, why was there no checklist identifying potential barriers and their removal? If persons with disabilities had been consulted, barriers could have been prevented. For example, placing a group of accessible parking spaces on Dalhousie street is unacceptable, considering the slope on the southwest side.

Administration would also recommend the elimination of the Kings Navy Yard Parklot being a primary accessible parking location. Why? These spots were allegedly under-utilized. The town is obliged to provide a specific number of accessible parking spaces so it should not remove them, unless they cannot be accessed due to road closures.

Other potential barriers should have been identified. How many accessible parking spaces are type A? type B? What is the percentage of accessible seating in the eating areas? Are there any rest areas? How many accessible washrooms are there? Are the pathways unobstructed? Is signage accessible? Is marketing material available in alternate formats?

If there is a parking problem, maybe the problem is with the plan that barricades access to the downtown area.

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Background Byte

In response to the RTT article, ‘County will not endorse Amherstburg’s request for AODA website compliance’ letter by Linda Saxon as published on November 4, 2020.

I appreciate Essex County Council not endorsing the town’s request.

Is COVID a convenient excuse?

For eighteen years, since September 2002, I appeared before town council and the town’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, emailed the town’s IT Department, wrote letters to the editor and appeared before the provincial Standing Committee on Justice Policy regarding the need for an accessible town website. The Manager of Information Technology assured me twice that a new website was being launched and would comply with web accessibility standards and informed council the site was standard compliant in July 2007. I provided site check results indicating the site failed minimum standards in June 2008 and in January 2009 after the launch of the newly designed site.

I served on the Essex County Website Redesign Committee when the county launched its redesigned site in 2014.  Why did Amherstburg wait until 2016 to hire the same web design company? And, in the four years since, what is the town’s excuse for non-compliance? Obviously, it isn’t COVID.

The Amherstburg Accessibility Advisory Committee should have also ‘vehemently’ opposed the town’s resolution that was distributed to all other municipalities in the province.

Most disappointing was that council members placated administration when the question on behalf of the community they serve should have been, why are we not compliant by now?

Although the report to council claims COVID is the reason, administration explained at the council meeting that it was due to third parties. I guess no one on council realized the town is also responsible for third party vendors because no one commented.

From the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001 to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, nothing in the legislation prevents a community from implementing accessibility earlier than deadlines that were carefully considered and allowed for plenty of time to comply. It is shameful that the town requested an extension when it was aware of the compliance deadline for years; certainly, for longer than COVID has existed.

Related posts:

Town of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Recommendation.

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Resolution

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Vote

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Follow Up Questions to Council

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Circulation of Resolution

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Essex County Council Does Not Endorse It

Amherstburg requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Third Party Vendors

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Third Party Vendors

Councillor Patricia Simone asked if it was possible to get assistance from a third party that deals specifically with websites; if it was possible to potentially get a quote and then weigh that against the time staff would need to be in compliance. (September 14, 2020 council meeting discussion).

The Town of Amherstburg’s website is already designed by a third party, eSolutions (stated at the bottom of the town’s site).

Other third parties:

Wired Solutions

Next ideas

Cinnamon Toast New Media Inc.

Bang the Table Pty Ltd. for the Town of Amherstburg’s TALK THE BURG.

CAO Miceli and town clerk, Paula Parker, also referred to third party vendors during council’s discussion regarding non-compliance. Miceli referenced third party vendors that the town hosts on its own website; Parker mentioned the town has some third party vendors who are responsible for such things as the tourism website, the fire website is another one that is third party.

Email request for information

Ms. Parker’s response to my request for information regarding third party vendors for the town’s website was:

There are a number of third party vendors providing services to the Town in a variety of manners and a review by Town staff is ongoing as to redundancy, duplication and contract terms/conditions.  While this review is underway and not yet complete, I cannot at this time provide a thorough list.  A report is expected to be available in 2021 with suggestions from Administration for efficiencies in service delivery and a streamlined approach to web content delivery.

FOI request for information

  1. The names of all third-party vendors that the Town of Amherstburg hosted on the Town of Amherstburg’s website from January 1, 2012 to present.
  2. Copies of all Requests for Proposals, Requests for Quotes and Tenders for the redesign of the town’s website from January 1, 2012 to present.
  3. Copies of each individual contract for the third-party vendors with the Town of Amherstburg website from January 1, 2012 to present.
  4. All the costs of each individual purchase of the third parties’ services for the Town of Amherstburg’s website from January 1, 2012 to present.
  5. All the cost of hosting each of the third parties’ services for the Town of Amherstburg’s website from January 1, 2012 to present.

Ms. Parker sought clarification. Ms. Parker was advised, the wording was based on the wording CAO Miceli and she used at the September 14, 2020 town council meeting when both referred to the town’s website non-compliance of the accessibility standard due to third party vendors.

Ms. Parker then issued two decision letters:

  1. the Town of Amherstburg requires an additional 30 days to December 4, 2020.
  2. a fee estimate of $967.50, exclusive of photocopies.

more to follow.

Related posts:

Town of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Recommendation.

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Resolution

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Vote

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Follow Up Questions to Council

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Circulation of Resolution

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Essex County Council Does Not Endorse It

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Essex County Council Does Not Endorse It

The River Town Times reports that on Wednesday October 21, Essex County council voted to not endorse the town of Amherstburg’s Resolution.

In a letter to county council, the Essex County Accessibility Advisory Committee (ECAAC) stated, “The ECAAC does not support the resolution from the Town of Amherstburg, but also vehemently opposes any extensions to this deadline for compliance.”

The members of the ECAAC noted that “fifteen years is long enough to take the necessary steps in achieving website compliance” and “not only does this request undermine the legislation as it stands, but also sends a message that meeting accessibility standards is not important”.

Kingsville Deputy Mayor Good Queen spoke against the resolution and Amherstburg Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche, in the absence of Mayor DiCarlo, offered an explanation.

View the discussion at county council meeting.

More to follow.

Related posts:

Town of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Recommendation.

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Resolution

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Vote

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Follow Up Questions to Council

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Circulation of Resolution

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – Follow Up Questions to Council

Members of Amherstburg town council were asked to provide the reasons for voting in favour of the Resolution on September 14, 2020.

The following responded.

Councillor Michael Prue: Please view the tape or the video. I was very passionate about why this should not be done. If this is not possible call me.

Councillor Patricia Simone: After reading the report provided in the agenda, discussion with administration and staff and research I conducted before the meeting.

Follow up question: What kind of research did you conduct and would you cite the sources you relied on to reach your decision?

No response.

Councillor Donald McArthur: I voted the way I did because I believe the extension request was earnest and made in good faith by staff, who are diligent, dedicated and hard-working.

As the report to Council makes clear, the Town’s robust response to the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on operations and established work plans.

“The work plan to address website accessibility did not anticipate the interruptions and redeployments caused by the declared pandemic, COVID-19,” said the report. “The demands of addressing the emergency declaration have devoted key resources away from other projects to ensure the safety of the community and staff, continued operations and new procedural changes to how the municipality ensures the provision of its services during a pandemic.”

Follow up question: regarding your comment at the meeting that amherstburg is not the only one of the 444 municipalities asking for this extension: would you know the numbers or names of those other municipalities?

McArthur: I based my comments off the report: ‘The Town of Amherstburg is not alone in finding it difficult to meet this timeline. Other municipalities have stated that they understand they may not be able to meet this target, especially given that there have been no funding announcements from the provincial government.’

Related postsTown of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension.

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Recommendation.

Town of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Resolution

Town of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Vote

More to follow.

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Vote

On September 14, 2020, the following members of Amherstburg town council voted in favour of the Resolution to request the province to extend the compliance deadline ‘to meet the compliance standards, by a minimum of one (1) year to at least January 1, 2022.’

  • Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche and
    Councillors
  • Michael Prue
  • Peter Courtney
  • Patricia Simone
  • Marc Renaud
  • Donald McArthur.

A discussion was held and is summarized below; disclaimer – this is not an official transcript.

Councillor Michael Prue spoke first and recalled his involvement with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) enacted in 2005. Prue wondered if they were doing the right thing to attempt to delay the website when the town has known since 2005 it had to be done and since the 2011 schedule saying it had to be done in 2020. He didn’t think they were doing a service to persons with disabilities or that it was in the municipality’s best interest.

Paula Parker, town clerk, agreed they were aware of the deadline for some time but COVID became a priority and they requested the extension to prevent the order or fines if they are non-compliant.

Councillor Michael Prue responded to Paula Parker: he didn’t understand why they would need a year extension when they only lost 5 months.

Councillor Donald McArthur disagreed and thought it was a bit of a cry for help from staff and that they should listen; that they’re not the only one of the 444 municipalities asking for this extension and he thought it was reasonable in light of COVID.

Councillor Patricia Simone asked about the possibility of a third party that deals specifically with websites and weigh that against staff time needed to be in compliance.

CAO MICELI mentioned Kevin Fox advised they can’t comply because of third party vendors and their information and those parties don’t follow the same rules.

Councillor Peter Courtney would support the extension on advice of administration and hope they have some compassion for them and hope the town doesn’t face any consequence.

Councillor Michael Prue asked if the matter went before the disability committee and wondered what people think of the town not meeting the deadline.

Councillor Marc Renaud, council’s representative on the Accessibility Advisory Committee, remained silent.

Paula Parker responded that it had been dealt with by the committee on a number of occasions and believed most recently at the end of last year. Parker responded to Courtney’s comments and pointed out the town’s website does meet the WCAG level 2.0 not only single A but double A. Parker mentioned the problem is with PDFs and some third party vendors who are responsible for such things as the tourism website and the fire website.

Councillor Michael Prue acknowledged the consensus but wasn’t sure if politically it was wise.

Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche agreed they need to get this done and mentioned part of the problem for years is administration puts in requests for help and council denies and they all just have two hands and can’t do the work of 4.

More to follow.

Related postsTown of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension.

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Recommendation.

Town of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Resolution

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Resolution

The following was included in the report to council for its September 14, 2020 meeting:

It is recommended that:

  1. WHEREAS Section 14(4) of O.Reg 191/11 under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires designated public sector organizations to conform to WCAG 2.0 Level AA by January 1, 2021;
  2. AND WHEREAS the municipality remains committed to the provision of accessible goods and services;
  3. AND WHEREAS the municipality provides accommodations to meet any stated accessibility need, where possible;
  4. AND WHEREAS the declared pandemic, COVID-19, has impacted the finances and other resources of the municipality;
  5. AND WHEREAS the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act contemplates the need to consider the technical or economic considerations in the implementation of Accessibility Standards;
  6. BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT the municipality requests that the Province of Ontario extend the compliance deadline stated in Section 14(4) of O.Reg 191/11 to require designated public sector organizations to meet the compliance standards, by a minimum of one (1) year to at least January 1, 2022;
    AND,
  7. BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT the municipality requests that the Province of Ontario consider providing funding support and training resources to meet these compliance standards.

More to follow.

RelatedTown of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension.

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Recommendation.

Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension – The Recommendation

What was recommended?

That the municipality requests the province of Ontario to extend the website compliance deadline to at least January 1, 2022 and that the province of Ontario consider providing funding support and training resources to meet these compliance standards.

The report for council’s September 24 meeting is not a status update; it is a request, 3 months in advance of the compliance deadline, for an extension to 15 months from now.

COVID-19/the pandemic is the most obvious reason for the recommendation and it is referenced nine times in the report:

  1. RECOMMENDATION: AND WHEREAS the declared pandemic, COVID-19, has impacted the finances and other resources;
  2. BACKGROUND:
    1. enhanced monitoring of declared pandemic, COVID-19;
    2. has been consumed by its response to COVID-19;
  3. DISCUSSION:
    1. did not anticipate the interruptions and redeployments caused by the declared pandemic, COVID-19.
    2. how the municipality ensures the provision of its services during a pandemic
    3. a number of staff were on unpaid leave during the pandemic,
    4. Due to the impact of the pandemic emergency on municipal operations
  4. FINANCIAL MATTERSsuggests that it cannot comply by January 1, 2021 due to COVID-19;
  5. CONCLUSION: extend the compliance deadline from January 1, 2021 to at least January 1, 2022 due to the impacts of the pandemic (COVID-19).

RISK ANALYSIS did not acknowledge the historical disadvantage of persons with disabilities. While the report mentioned administration will continue in its efforts to comply, the risk was relative to hypothetical consequences to the town: If non-compliant; can require; If this is the case; suggests that it cannot comply; may still enforce its timelines; there may be financial implications.

FINANCIAL MATTERS did not specify a dollar amount of hardship, given the reliance on how “COVID-19 has impacted the finances and other resources of the municipality.” Instead, it was noted the town might face financial implications in the form of administrative penalties or increased expenses in trying to meet the required standards after an order to comply. There was no mention of the AODA procedure relative to an Order.

CONSULTATIONS listed three staff; there was no mention of public consultations of ratepayers that pay for the town’s website or their thoughts on financial priorities for the community.

Council voted in favour of the resolution.

More to follow.

RelatedTown of Amherstburg Requests Website Compliance Deadline Extension.