ACAT Meeting - August 31, 2023

Meeting Info

Date:Thursday, August 31, 2023
Start Time:1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Location:Virtual Meeting
Meeting No:397
  • Agenda
  • Meeting Minutes

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  1. Call to Order / Attendance
  2. Land Acknowledgement
  3. Declaration of Conflict of Interest
  4. Approval of Agenda
  5. Remarks from TTC Executive
  6. Remarks from ACAT Chair
    1. Memoriam - Sam Savona
  7. Review and Approval of July 27, 2023 Minutes
  8. Outstanding Items
  9. Deputation: Nil
  10. Review of Correspondence: Nil
  11. Wheel-Trans Transformation & COVID-19 update from Cameron Penman
  12. Subcommittee Reports, Highlights and Updates
    • Communications
    • Design Review
    • Service Planning
    • Wheel-Trans Operations
  13. Other/New Business
    1. Fire Evacuation Procedures
    2. TAAC Presentation
  14. Next Meeting - September 28, 2023
  15. Adjournment

Minutes of Meeting:

ACAT General Meeting

Meeting Date:     

Thursday, August 31, 2023
1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.


Virtual meeting via WebEx


Anita Dressler, ACAT Chair  
Gwyneth Dalzell, ACAT Co-Vice Chair
Erica Tanny, ACAT Co-Vice Chair
Betty Rivington-Law
Bobbi Moore
Craig Nicol, DRS Chair
Frank Lockhart
Howard Wax, SPS Chair
Jason Osborne, Pool Member
Lauri Sue Robertson, WTOS Chair
Lavarnan Mehavarnan
Maria Marin, CS Chair
Mei Hung
Wangari Muriuki
Rob Lackie


Valdo Tammark
Tammy Adams, Pool Member
Nicholas Paterson, Pool Member

TTC Representatives:

Gary Downie, Chief Capital Officer 
Shakira Naraine, Chief People Officer
Wendy Reuter, Acting Chief of Strategy & Customer Experience Officer
Cameron Penman, Head of Wheel-Trans
Mark Biamonte, Director of Emergency Management & Fire Life Safety
David LoPresti, Manager, Contracted Taxi Services, Wheel-Trans
Dean Milton, Manager of Strategic Initiatives, Wheel-Trans
Mohammed Shaikh, Divisional Manager, Wheel-Trans
Ross Visconti, Wheel-Trans Project Manager
Levenson Lincoln, Assistant Manager of Customer Service, Wheel-Trans
Adrian Grundy, Senior Communications Advisor, Corporate Communications
Jeff Short, Senior Accessibility Planner
Omar Jabbar, Project Manager, Wheel-Trans
Adrienne Isaac, Administrative Assistant, Wheel-Trans
Alexandra Nicastro, Administrative Assistant, Wheel-Trans
Oma Okolocha, Coordinator, Human Rights & Investigations
Sneha Madhuri, Communications Advisor, Corporate Communications
Warren Rupnarain, Accessibility Consultant

Items Discussed

  1. Call to Order / Attendance
  2. Land Acknowledgement
  3. Declaration of Conflict of Interest
  4. Approval of Agenda 
  5. Remarks from TTC Executive 
  6. Remarks from ACAT Chair 
    a. Memoriam – Sam Savona 
  7. Review and Approval of July 27, 2023 Minutes 
  8. Outstanding Items 
  9. Deputation:  Nil  
  10. Review of Correspondence:  Nil
  11. Wheel-Trans Transformation & COVID-19 update from Cameron Penman
  12. Subcommittee Reports, Highlights and Updates
    - Communications 
    - Design Review 
    - Service Planning 
    - Wheel-Trans Operations 
  13. Other/New Business
    a. Fire Evacuation Procedures – Mark Biamonte   
    b. TAAC Presentation – Dean Milton 
  14. Next Meeting – September 28, 2023    
  15. Adjournment

1. Call to Order/Attendance 

Anita Dressler, ACAT Chair, called the meeting to order at 1:01 p.m. and welcomed attendees and attendance was taken.  

2. Land Acknowledgement 

A member read the Land Acknowledgement. 

3. Declaration of Conflict of Interest 


4. Approval of Agenda 

Betty Rivington-Law brought a motion to approve the agenda, Howard Wax seconded. Carried. 

5. Remarks from TTC Executive 

Wendy Reuter, acting Chief of Strategy & Customer Experience Officer, introduced herself and thanked ACAT members for their contributions. Prior to her current position as Acting Chief, Wendy was the Head of Research & Analytics. Some of the key accessibility activities that the Research & Analytics team does are: customer surveys on accessibility; and passenger counts for elevators, escalators and stairs, which help the TTC to better understand how these features can be used for more efficient and convenient access. She reminded the members of the upcoming 2023 Public Forum on Accessible Transit hybrid meeting on October 23, 2023, between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. at the Toronto Reference Library. The TTC is also hosting a series of consultations for the 2024 – 2028 Multi-Year Accessibility Plan, which will begin this Fall.

Questions and Comments from the Committee


6. Remarks from ACAT Chair 

a) Memoriam – Sam Savona

The ACAT Chair spoke about the passing of Sam Savona and asked for a moment of silence.  She noted Sam Savona was a member of ACAT for several years, the first time was 1993 serving as both a Chair and Vice-Chair, his final term ending in 2021. She expressed appreciation for his contributions to accessibility and the TTC.

7. Review and Approval of July 27, 2023, Minutes 

Bobbi Moore brought a motion to approve the July 27, 2023 minutes as amended, Howard Wax seconded. Carried. 

8. Outstanding Items 

a) Scarborough Centre Station Motion

This item is pending and updates are expected in Q4 2023.

b) Recommendation for Honorarium 

This is ongoing and an update will be provided at a future meeting.

Questions and Comments from the Committee


9. Deputation 


10. Review of Correspondence 


11. Wheel-Trans Transformation & COVID-19 update from Cameron Penman 

Cameron Penman, Head of Wheel-Trans, provided a Wheel-Trans update. Wheel-Trans plans to upgrade the Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) system, which provides vehicle tracking. TTC staff are working with a consultant to develop a request for information and proposal that will be ready to be issued next year. Steps are also being taken to secure a contract to implement a new Interactive Voice Response (IVR) phone system. Regarding phases 5-8 of the Reservations, Scheduling, and Dispatch software upgrades: Cameron explained that Wheel-Trans is continuing internal discussions regarding a way forward based on the recommendations from our solution assessment.

Cameron explained that the Wheel-Trans mobile app is in its final stages of testing and will be released soon. There is a target release date in late September. The communication is already prepared for release. The re-registration of legacy customers is ongoing and Cameron advised another wave of letters have been sent to Wheel-Trans customers. There are approximately 7,200 left to register.

With respect to the Wheel-Trans fleet, there are currently close to 100, 7 metre ProMaster buses in service. 

For the COVID update, it was noted that after discussion with WTOS and aligning with other paratransit agencies around the GTA, mandatory masking was removed for Operators and customers, unless a person has symptoms or tests positive for COVID. When asked how the new variant might affect this, the TTC is ready to revert back to masking if recommended by local public health officials and TTC Safety. 

Cameron provided a Wheel-Trans staffing update and introduced Alexandra Nicastro as the new Administrative Assistant, replacing Adrienne Isaac while she is on maternity leave.

Questions and Comments from the Committee


12. Subcommittee Reports, Highlights and Updates: 

Communications Subcommittee (CS) 

Maria Marin, CS Chair, provided a summary of the Communications Subcommittee Meeting held on August 3, 2023.

The Communications Engineering group presented about the new elevator intercom screens that will be installed in new elevators. This will allow for non-verbal communication commands in new elevators. They are expected to be ready for release in approximately six months. Prompts on the screen would use a yes or no format and will continue on a path dependent on each question. Transit Control will be trained to ask pertinent questions in order to provide as much information as possible. Voice will also be an option for communication and this was implemented due to changes to elevator code requirements. Jeff Short, Senior Accessibility Planner, Strategy & Foresight, will be reaching out to external organizations to help ensure that feedback about the needs of individuals with hearing loss are considered. 

The subcommittee was updated about the Wheel-Trans Family of Services (FOS) pilot, upcoming launch of Wheel-Trans mobile app, and the recruitment of new ACAT members.

Jeff made a presentation about TTC’s Multi-Year Accessibility plan for 2024-2028 regarding information that will be shared with all ACAT members, along with specific feedback from both the Communications Subcommittee and the Service Planning Subcommittee, to help ensure participants feel more comfortable sharing. Due to staffing limitations the TTC has engaged a consulting firm called Left Turn Right Turn to assist in organizing and facilitating the consultations.

The next Communications Subcommittee meeting is scheduled for September 7, 2023 at 1 p.m. 

CS Meeting Highlights:  

  • Elevator Intercom Screens Presentation
  • Wheel-Trans update – FOS pilot, Mobile App launch, ACAT recruitment.
  • TTC 2024-2028 Multi-Year Accessibility Plan, engagement and consultation

Questions and Comments from the Committee

A member reminded the Committee that it is important for presenters to face the camera when speaking as it is difficult to read lips when they are facing away. 

Jeff advised that he will be emailing interested ACAT members to request input regarding the messaging screens for the new elevators. 

Design Review Subcommittee (DRS)

Craig Nicol, DRS Chair, discussed the items reviewed at the DRS meeting held on August 8, 2023. 

Jeff made a presentation on the York Mills Accessibility features survey, the reasoning behind the survey and the different added accessibility features. As part of the survey, he noted that the TTC worked with CNIB to recruit individuals with vision loss to participate. He summarized their findings and the feedback given, with a large portion of customers appreciating these additions. The subcommittee asked about the durability of the decals on the ground, the bay numbers not providing enough information on the service routes for people with low vision. The members asked if there was a tactile equivalent for the transom signs, and Jeff noted this was a comment made by some participants recruits through the CNIB. The subcommittee suggested the addition of stop poles to assist people with low or no vision in locating the stop. The subcommittee also suggested that the feedback received from the survey should be looked at other bus terminals as well. 

An update was provided about pre-boarding announcements on buses. The subcommittee had previously recommended 20 second intervals rather than 10. TTC staff confirmed the interval will be changed to 20 seconds. The subcommittee discussed the gate configuration relating to the Presto gates, explaining how some people with a mobility device, guide dog, or individuals with strollers have issues opening the gates. 

The subcommittee recommended that the City of Toronto consider including a message on the crosswalk buttons advising people about centre median transit platforms that can be accessed from a crosswalk, which would be helpful to individuals with vision loss especially with the upcoming opening of Line 5. The City has agreed and there will be a test location at Avenue Road and St. Clair.

The next DRS meeting is scheduled for September 12, 2023. 

DRS Meeting Highlights: 

  • York Mills Accessibility survey results.
  • Pre-boarding announcement on buses
  • Messaging on Line 5 cross-walk buttons.

Service Planning Subcommittee (SPS)

Howard Wax, SPS Chair, presented about the SPS meeting held August 1, 2023.  

A presentation was made regarding snow clearing at transit stops and included both City of Toronto staff, along with TTC who set out their responsibilities for snow clearing. It was explained that this was the first year for this contractor, and they had some feedback to take back to them. The Subcommittee discussed a few items, including the ability for someone to access the crosswalk button that is often blocked by snow, blocking of the crosswalk entrance with snow, along with other details. 

Members were assured that the roads are not given priority over sidewalks, but explained that they are timed so that road clearing does not block the sidewalks up again after they have been cleaned. The group also discussed who is responsible for snow clearing at third party station entrances (a commercial building with access to the subway) and whether the TTC should suggest on its website that only the main entrance should be used during snow events.

The final discussion involved the consultants hired for the 2024 – 2028 Multi-Year Accessibility plan. The Subcommittee members asked for a copy of the draft engagement plan before they are ready to provide feedback. They also suggested that this should have gone to the ACAT General Meeting for initial feedback, along with the Communications Subcommittee for more in-depth discussion.

Jeff provided a short update on the TTC’s Photo ID Office, including the suggestion to post the phone number so that people could reach someone in the office without having the pay the fare to get their ID (post secondary cards, Support Person Assistance Cards), and including more information about the Davisville location to the website, although it has more limited services (primarily related to the Support Person Assistance Card).

The next meeting is scheduled for September 5, 2023. 

SPS Meeting Highlights: 

  • Snow clearing at transit stops
  • 2024-2028 Multi-Year Accessibility Plan
  • Photo ID Card Office update

Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee (WTOS)

Lauri Sue Robertson, WTOS Chair, discussed the topics reviewed at the WTOS meeting held on August 9, 2023. 

A moment of silence was held for Sam Savona, former ACAT member.  

Gwyneth Dalzell, ACAT Co-Vice Chair made a presentation on the Appeals Committee noting issues with both the process and the location/choice of location. In particular they mentioned the lack of autonomy and dependence on other people or mobility devices. They noted many issues limit the ability of people to use the accessibility features and in particular the bias and unfairness of the appeals process. It was suggested that a separate committee be formed to discuss this as there is a lot of information to go through. It was also recommended that this information be sent to all ACAT members in order to get more input from different perspectives.

Levenson Lincoln, Assistant Manager of Customer Service for Wheel-Trans, addressed the issues and stated the portion of the system that are not fully accessible are covered by Wheel-Trans and Family of Services. Dean Milton provided an update on Family of Services and the upcoming pilot project. 

An update was provided by Dean Milton regarding the changes to the masking requirements, in partnership with the Joint Health and Safety Committee, they will no longer be mandatory, but will be optional for operators and customers unless they are symptomatic or COVID positive. Finally, Levenson Lincoln provided the update on the Wheel-Trans complaints for July.

WTOS Meeting Highlights: 

  • Wheel-Trans Appeals 
  • Family of Services pilot project update

The next WTOS meeting is scheduled for September 13, 2023. 

Questions and Comments from the Committee

The ACAT Chair and the ACAT Executive are having discussions about the possibility of forming another committee to discuss the appeal process or whether further discussions will be held in WTOS.

13.Other/New Business 

a. Resuming ACAT General meetings in person
b. Fire Evacuation Procedures – Mark Biamonte Signage at Kennedy Station
c.  TAAC Presentation – Dean Milton

a. Resuming ACAT General meetings in person

A member stated they went to Sam Savona’s funeral and the TTC sent honour guards who accompanied the casket in and out of the church. The member was disappointed to see no other current ACAT members or TTC Executives present.

A member asked when in-person ACAT meetings will be resumed. Cameron Penman suggested that ACAT members discuss the topic and TTC staff will support their decision. Committee members were asked to email either the ACAT Chair or Alexandra Nicastro, Wheel-Trans Administrative Assistant with their input.

Members were reminded that if they choose in-person there are a number of items that must be considered, including availability of members to be in Toronto, Boardroom availability, arranging for attendant car, and the possibility of streaming the meeting on YouTube. 

A member commented that there are other considerations if they were considering meeting in person that they must give staff the time to consider.

A member commented they were not ready to discuss meeting in person and that they believe it requires further discussion. They suggested a hybrid version for people that cannot attend in person.

b. Fire Evacuation Procedures – Mark Biamonte 

Mark Biamonte, Director of Emergency Management & Fire Life Safety, Fire Safety & Emergency Planning, presented an overview of the TTC’s Fire Evacuation Procedures at the June SPS meeting. Mark’s June presentation was circulated in advance of this General Meeting for review and comment by the ACAT members.

Questions and Comments from the Committee: 

A member asked if evacuation chairs have been considered. Mark explained these were looked at in the past but there were issues with them, such as storage and accessibility when they are needed. If there is new technology or options, they would be happy to take another look. He also noted that they have separate devices for evacuation from the tunnel that ride on the rails to evacuate to a station.

Jeff Short asked Mark to give an overview of how the elevators work in case of an emergency. Mark explained that evacuation chairs must be used by experienced personnel, so have limited uses. In the event of an emergency, the elevator will recall. It works so that smoke will not work its way out to the platform and in most emergencies, the elevators continue to work as normal. If the announcement comes on to discontinue using the elevators, people will be told to wait at the elevators and help will come.

A member commented that this does not seem safe, what happens in the elevator recalls to a floor with an active fire. They understood that they recall to the ground floor and then are controlled by the fire department. Mark stated that the elevators are programmed not to open on a floor with an active alarm. The member was still concerned about this.

A member asked about the announcements and screens that carry emergency information in the event a station is having an emergency or fire. This member was concerned that there are frequent generic announcements that come over the PA system and wondered if the emergency information would go to all stations as well. Mark explained that the station would be put on manual mode, and that a generic message would go to other stations about there being an emergency situation at a specific station and the manual mode would keep specific information to that station regarding evacuation/emergency procedures.

A member asked about the emergency strips and commented that people with vision loss do not have the ability to find the strips and have been unable to locate them on the TTC website. A member also asked if they feel different so they can be easily found. Mark stated there are strips below the blue seats, as well as up above all the seats. They are listed on the website on how to find them. Mark noted that when pressed, the driver looks at the camera and puts out an announcement noting the emergency strip being pressed. Jeff posted where the location of the strips is found on the website.

A member commented that in their experience, the messages do overlap/conflict with each other and there are so many that it can be difficult to understand them, both due to the content and the legibility of the speaker. Mark explained that they are doing training for people to speak on the microphone and that as long as the operator holds down the talk button, it is kept in manual mode and goes only to the station. The member stated he has also seen ladders, which are likely for evacuation as well. The member suggested that the other options for evacuation products that are like a board, which could be stored in the collector’s office for easy availability. Mark stated that there are stokes baskets at the end of each platform and they spend every other Sunday night training fire officers on the use of the equipment, where to find it et cetera. This will ensure that all firefighters are familiar with the equipment.

A member stated that they have been on a stair climber chair, and they are slow. It would be dangerous to be using one going slowly with all the other people evacuating around you. They heard that using an elevator during a fire will draw fire into the shaft and it will spread. Mark explained that unless the fire is in the equipment room of the elevator it will not be back drafted into the shaft. The member stated that often they think that wheelchair users avoid the subway system as they are afraid that they would not be able to escape if there were an emergency. When people are escaping an emergency, who would stop to help someone else? Mark explained they have reached out to some groups to assist them with this kind of evacuation to help them practice.

A member suggested simple, plain language signs with three steps that would help people know what to do in an emergency. Mark stated that they have signs that are at places where people would congregate, the DWA, pay phones, and near elevators that explain in detail what to do in an emergency. This member suggested additional signs with three simple steps, “go here, do this, wait for that” that would include pictures for people that might have language barriers and be more straightforward than having to read something that is long.

A member stated that they are still concerned with the announcements over the PA in the stations getting mixed up with the generic messages in an emergency. It was stated that as long as the operator is holding down the talk button, but if other announcements are mixed up with the emergency notices, it will get confusing, especially for someone that is blind, as they take in a lot of audible cues information from the environment.

Mark thanked the Committee for the feedback, stating that they do their best but are always looking for ways to improve. He will take the comments back from today. He noted that members are welcome to attend and watch the firefighter training, but it is done very early in the morning on a Sunday, at a time when the subway is not running. If they are interested, members were asked to reach out a week early and they can accommodate if possible.

c. TAAC Presentation – Dean Milton 

Cameron Penman explained the background behind the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee (TAAC) presentation that Dean Milton would be delivering on September 5th, 2023. Dean presented and asked for comments from the Committee members.


The presentation was about Wheel-Trans’ service model updates and TAAC’s request to:

  • Provide rationale for changes made
  • Provide an equity analysis
  • Review consultations held with people with disabilities
  • Review the status of the re-registration process for customers and mitigation strategies to managing barriers to re-registration
  • Review the benefits of Family of Services

Questions and Comments from the Committee: 

A member suggested that the topics covered in the presentation did not address some concerns that were raised at WTOS. Dean stated that the TTC was asked to present the rationale for the changes, what equity analysis was done and the consultation as well as to give more insight into the registration process as well as how they were dealing with the barriers to re-registration. The member commented that the presentation was a lot of information, and that the TTC should consider the information they are sharing, along with respecting people’s times. It should be ensured that the information and concerns being brought forward are being addressed. They were not sure that was coming through in this presentation; there were a lot of details and data, but limited acknowledgement of potential problems and thoughts for solutions and mitigation. 

A member commented that from their experience, the Family of Services (FOS) is a waste of time and money, having had a bad experience in the past. Dean stated that the FOS is a work in progress, and any positive and negative feedback brought to their attention about a person’s trip will help improve future service delivery

A member commented that there are two areas they are concerned with. The first is the potential extra cost to customers having to re-register with Wheel-Trans. It could be expensive if your physician charges you to fill out forms, and you are dealing with individuals that are seniors, disabled and disadvantaged, all with limited income. The cost to obtain the doctors letter might be out of reach. The second is the appeal process and the lack of anti-bias training provided. The Appeals Panel consists of a TTC staff member, an ACAT member, and an Occupational Therapist from Bayshore. There should be a fourth totally independent member of the panel and anti-bias training provided. The decisions made at this appeal affect the lives of people using the system.

A member asked if there is travel training for people that are new to the City, with language barriers, or that are not a Wheel-Trans customer. Dean explained at this time with limited resources, no. Wendy Reuter thought this was a good idea and will take this back for consideration as it could be a benefit to others.

A member wondered if the TTC had considered adding a touch screen in the stations that would assist people to map their trip, which might make it easier for people to visually see it. Wendy Reuter said this could be an alternate way to support wayfinding while already on the system and will take this back as well.

14. Next Meeting 

The next ACAT General Meeting is scheduled for September 28, 2023.

15. Adjournment 

The meeting was adjourned on a motion by Howard Wax at 2:56 p.m. 

Cindy Edwards 
Recording Secretary

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