May 23, 2003

York Region releases draft accessibility plan


NEWMARKET York Regional Council released its draft accessibility plan to York Region residents for consultation and feedback. Understanding Barriers, York Region's First Annual Accessibility Plan describes what York Region will do in 2004 to implement the Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ODA).

"Regional Council has developed a strategic response to accessibility planning. This first draft of our annual accessibility plan clearly reflects our ongoing dedication to giving persons with disabilities improved access to Regional Government services and programs," said Regional Chair and CEO Bill Fisch. "It also supports our commitment to meeting the needs and realities of our residents, which is a key goal of the Region's 25-year strategic plan, Vision 2026."

The draft Plan presents a series of actions that the Region will take to enhance accessibility in its programs and services. In 2004, the Region proposes to focus on areas such as travel, regional services and facilities, accessing regional information and creating an accessible workplace.

"Prior to the enactment of ODA, the Region was already actively engaged in identifying and removing barriers, particularly physical barriers," said Newmarket Regional Councillor Diane Humeniuk, Chair of the Region's Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC). "This is evident in the draft Plan, which includes a description of how the Region has already successfully eliminated a multitude of barriers."

"This will be an ongoing process. Each year's Plan will build on the achievements of the former year's Plan," added Newmarket Mayor Tom Taylor, Chair of the Region's Community Services and Housing Committee. "The important work done to date clearly illustrates the Region's commitment. Having the AAC's advice and input in drafting this Plan has strengthened the quality and focus of Council's work in this area."

The Region's AAC, which was appointed in March to advise the Region on implementation of the ODA, reviewed the draft Plan in April. Many of the AAC's recommendations and feedback have been incorporated into the draft Plan.

The primary focus of the Region's first Annual Accessibility Plan is on barrier identification. In all, there are 62 initiatives highlighted in the draft Plan to examine many aspects of the Region's programs and services to determine if any barriers exist.

The public is encouraged to review and provide comments to the draft Plan, which is posted on the Region's Web site at www.region.york.on.ca, under the "What's New" link from the home page.

"We know this is an incremental process but eventually every resident of this Region should be able to have access to Regional government services and programs. The York Region AAC supports Council's efforts to encourage broad feedback on the contents of this first plan and suggestions for what should be done in the future to improve on our efforts," said Vaughan Regional Councillor Joyce Frustaglio, Vice Chair of the York Region AAC and Chair of the Region's Health and Emergency Medical Services Committee.

As of May 29th, printed copies of Understanding Barriers will be available at the main reception desks at the York Region Administrative Centre at 17250 Yonge Street in Newmarket, and the York Region South Services Centre at 50 High Tech Road in Richmond Hill.

A public consultation session will be held on Tuesday, June 17th, 2003 at the York Region Administrative Centre, 17250 Yonge Street in Newmarket in the Seminar Room. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The session will run from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. York Region Transit will provide free Mobility Plus specialized service to and from the session for people who are unable to use regular public transit because of physical and/or functional limitations. This free service is subject to availability and must be booked by 7:00 p.m. on Friday, June 13th by calling (905) 762-2112 or 1-866-744-1119.

The final version of York Region's first Accessibility Plan will be completed and made available to the public by September 30, 2003.

Public Service Announcement about feedback on the draft accessibility plan

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Contact: Wendy Lewis, Corporate Communications Services, York Region

- (905) 830-4444 or (416) 297-9696, ext. 1238

- Email: wendy.lewis@region.york.on.ca


The Regional Municipality of York is committed to providing cost-effective, quality services that respond to the needs of our rapidly growing communities.  York Region is comprised of the following nine area municipalities:  Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Whitchurch-Stouffville.  For more information, visit our Web site at:  www.region.york.on.ca

Contact: Patrick Casey, Senior Media Relations Specialist, York Region

 
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