ACAT Meeting - September 28, 2023

Meeting Info

Date:Thursday, September 28, 2023
Start Time:1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Location:Virtual Meeting
Meeting No:398
  • 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

  7. Review and Approval of August 31, 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.    Resuming in-person/hybrid ACAT General Meetings
    b.    Communication Etiquette

  14. Next Meeting – October 27, 2023    

  15. Adjournment

Minutes of Meeting:            

ACAT General Meeting

Meeting Date:                    

Thursday, September 28, 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
Nicholas Paterson, Pool Member


Tammy Adams, Pool Member

Member of Public:          

Debbie Gillespie                    

TTC Representatives:     

Josie La Vita, Chief Financial Officer
Cameron Penman, Head of Wheel-Trans
David LoPresti, Manager, Contracted Taxi Services, Wheel-Trans
Dean Milton, Manager of Strategic Initiatives, Wheel-Trans
Ross Visconti, Wheel-Trans Project Manager
Lodon Hassan, Manager of Customer Service, Wheel-Trans
Levenson Lincoln, Assistant Manager of Customer Service, Wheel-Trans
Natalie Francis, Manager of Planning and Policy, Wheel-Trans
Adrian Grundy, Senior Communications Advisor, Corporate Communications
Jeff Short, Senior Accessibility Planner
Shaun Deonarine, Human Rights Consultant
Shima Eghanian, Operations Manager, Streetcar Maintenance
Chrisanne Finnerty, Director, Commission Services
Mark Mis, Head of Strategy and Foresight
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
  7. Review and Approval of August 31, 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
    1. Communications
    2. Design Review
    3. Service Planning
    4. Wheel-Trans Operations
  13. Other/New Business
    1. Resuming in-person/hybrid ACAT General Meetings
    2. Communication Etiquette
  14. Next Meeting – October 27, 2023
  15. Adjournment

1. Call to Order/Attendance 

Anita Dressler, ACAT Chair, called the meeting to order at 1:02 p.m., welcomed attendees and attendance was taken.

2. Land Acknowledgement 

A member read the Land Acknowledgement.

Jeff Short, Senior Accessibility Planner also noted that the TTC is commemorating Truth and Reconciliation Day and that everyone should take time to reflect on the victims and survivors of Residential Schools. It is important to recognize this day to reflect on how our community can move forward with the truth of Canada’s involvement. Anita Dressler thanked Jeff Short for raising this item.

3. Declaration of Conflict of Interest 


4. Approval of Agenda 

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

5. Remarks from TTC Executive 

Josie La Vita, Chief Financial Officer explained that she deals with the financial matters with the TTC, including procurement and information technology services. She noted it is budget time with both the TTC and the City of Toronto. They are making sure that all the priorities are being funded and that Wheel Trans has the money it requires. They have spent a lot of time with Cameron Penman’s, Head of Wheel-Trans’ team and forecasting the 2024 financial requirements to ensure they have the resources in place to fund that. At this point they are almost done. On the capital side, they are working with partners at the TTC and City of Toronto to have funding for important projects. The Easier Access project has cost escalations, but there is funding in place to ensure the costs are covered. They are also working hard to ensure that the next generation of work required for the transformation of Wheel-Trans and other projects have funding. IT staff have been working diligently to complete the new app and thanked the committee for their input. In the broader picture, they are focused on making sure there is funding for all the upcoming and current projects. A big item that was discussed at the TTC Board meeting on Tuesday was the Safety, Security and Well-Being Report that adds resources where it is felt they are needed. The next step is to go to City Council for approval. They are working with the new TTC Board to get them up to speed on major activities with TTC’s 2024 Operating budget that are already underway.

Questions and Comments from the Committee

A member asked if the TTC expects the City of Toronto’s new mayor to provide adequate funding? Josie La Vita was hopeful, and Olivia Chow has met with both the Premier of Ontario and the Federal Government to forge a new deal for Toronto. The TTC is still suffering from lower ridership and the post covid issues. The mayor has two services that are a priority, transit and housing, so they are hopeful that funding will remain steady.

6. Remarks from ACAT Chair 

Anita Dressler again thanked the staff and members of ACAT for their dedication to improving transit around the City for everyone, not just improving it for those who need accessibility.  She thanked the Subcommittees for their great work and mentioned a few projects they had been working on. The impact that all the members are making on the TTC are very impactful. They have completed the interviews for the new ACAT members and will have the selections finalized by tomorrow. The names of the newly selected candidates will then be sent to the TTC Board for approval. This time is bittersweet as some members will be finishing their term and leaving, but they will be welcoming new members. She encouraged the departing members to reapply, as their time and expertise is valuable.

7. Review and Approval of August 31, 2023, Minutes 

Maria Marin brought a motion to approve the August 31, 2023 minutes as presented, Wangari Muriuki seconded. Carried.

8. Outstanding Items 

  1. Scarborough Centre Station Motion

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

  2. Recommendation for Honorarium

    This is ongoing and an update will be provided at the November meeting as Cameron Penman is still working on this.

  3. Terms of Reference

    This will be brought to the November 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. Workshops have begun with a consultant in order to develop the Request for Information for the new Automatic Vehicle Locations (AVL) and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems. These will be followed by a Request for Proposals for the new systems which are expected to be issued next year. Regarding phases 5-8 of the Reservations, Scheduling and Dispatch software upgrades, Cameron explained that internal discussions continue regarding a way forward based on the recommendations from the solution assessment.

Cameron explained that the Wheel-Trans Mobile App is ready for official release on Monday, October 2, 2023 and communication for customers is ready to be released. The app comes with the same features that the self-booking website has, but on your phone. A new option on the app is the ‘where is my ride’ feature, that you can access 10 minutes before your scheduled pick-up time and see on a map, where your ride is.

The re-registration of legacy customers is ongoing, and Cameron advised that this year 3,800 people have re-registered, with an additional 6,600 left.

With respect to the Wheel-Trans fleet, there are currently 100, new 7 metre ProMaster buses in service, with only a few of the Friendly buses left to replace.

He reminded the ACAT members of the annual Public Forum on Accessible Transit that will be held Monday, October 23, 2023 between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. at the Toronto Reference Library. ACAT members should have received their invitations, and if not, to reach out to Jeff Short. He noted that the newsletter is ready for release as well.

For the COVID update, there was little to update, but noted that the TTC is ready to revert back to masking if recommended by local public health officials and the TTC Safety team.

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 was held on September 7, 2023. 

A presentation was made to the subcommittee on the partnership between the TTC and Unlimited Therapeutics, who have created a game to help children with developmental disabilities prepare and learn about taking the subway. It is accessible on either a tablet or virtual reality system to show them the sights and sounds that they will experience. The Committee members made suggestions such as having hints they can press to explain things they see, adding accessibility features and changing the level of detail in the game, depending on the person. Criticisms included that it appeared to be forcing people to face their fears, rather than providing them with their own way to support themselves, e.g. a backpack with tools to help them help themselves.

A short update was provided by Heather Brown in the sensory notices in outstanding items, confirming giving more prominence to these notices.

Alex Blackwell from the Wayfinding Department gave an update on the Sheppard and Yonge Station sign updates, to reflect the new TTC standards. They are still working on it, but should be finished soon. Jeff Short gave an update on the 2024-2028 Multi-Year Accessibility Plan consultation, stating that it is moving along and when input is required. These updates will be a standing agenda item. Sneha Madhuri updated the Committee members on the Wheel-Trans communications, including the Mobile App, launched on September 25, 2023, the beginning of the Family of Services (FOS) pilot on September 20, 2023, and the new, shorter newsletter.  ACAT members were asked to watch for their invitation to the upcoming Public Forum on Accessible Transit in October.  The final discussion was on in-person meetings returning, which will be discussed at the ACAT General meeting.

The next meeting will be held on October 5, 2023, at 2:00 p.m.

CS Meeting Highlights: 

  • Unlimited Therapeutics presentation on new sensory game.
  • Update on wayfinding at Sheppard-Yonge Station.
  • Wheel-Trans communication updates.

Questions and Comments from the Committee


Design Review Subcommittee (DRS)

There was no meeting held in September for the DRS.

The next DRS meeting is scheduled for October 10, 2023 at 1:30 p.m.

Service Planning Subcommittee (SPS)

Howard Wax, SPS Chair, presented about the SPS meeting held September 5, 2023.

There was a presentation on the operator training regarding using the microphone, which included pacing your voice and speaking slowly and clearly to ensure that people understand. A member commented that this presentation was well modulated, but not at the pace that most people speak and those can be difficult to understand. Operators are also told to pace their voice as it will reverberate in the stations. Members suggested that any route change on the buses, should be communicated clearly as soon as possible to customers so that they can adjust their route accordingly. Specifically if they require shuttle bus trips so that if they want, they can get off earlier and avoid the crowds. Concerns from members also included competing with the conversations going on, diversions forcing people with mobility devices to be inconvenienced, connections with FOS and diversions, difficulties with diversions and people with learning difficulties. A recommendation to provide a short version of instructions in case of emergency in the stations, with diagrams might also be helpful.

There was a presentation on the mid-block stops, looking through an equity and accessibility lens. A member asked for the definition of mid-block, which was clarified. A member recommended TTC reach out to the City to see if notices could be put up near these mid-block stops to inform traffic. TTC staff asked for some input from the SPS members regarding how far they would consider walking for stops and crossings. SPS members recommended engaging with the communities that will be affected by stops moving and TTC staff confirmed they would be doing this. Jeff Short recommended that they look into the City’s and TTC’s standards for placing benches when considering the distance between stops. A member suggested looking into a similar program as Request Stop but for customers who can only walk shorter distances.

The subject of meeting in person was raised and TTC staff will look into this, and it will be discussed further at the ACAT General meeting.

The next meeting will be October 3, 2023 at 1:30 p.m.

SPS Meeting Highlights:

  • Operator training with announcements.
  • Mid-block stops - changes and proposed new locations.
  • In person meetings.

Questions and Comments from the Committee

A member commented they had been at the recertification training for the streetcar operators and heard comments from a lot of them that they enjoyed the training and had never had this before. The member asked if the long-time employees received this training or if there is training for new employees or plans to provide training for long-term staff. Jeff Short confirmed there is accessibility training for new TTC employees, and together with Mark Mis committed to getting more details on the training and if long time employees have the opportunity to do the training (including refresher training) as well.

A member commented that another issue is that employees do not understand that they should not be using the accessible washroom stalls or petting service dogs, which they should receive training on. Jeff Short suggested that the TTC can investigate options for the ACAT members to give input on the accessibility e-learning or training being received by staff to recommend possible enhancements.

Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee (WTOS)

Lauri Sue Robertson, WTOS Chair, discussed the topics reviewed at the WTOS meeting held on September 13, 2023.

There was an update to the Modal Usage/Diversion Survey that was done during June and July of this year. The findings were summarized for the WTOS members.  The Family of Services (FOS) pilot started on September 10, with 17 customers agreeing to try the system. Results will be available and provided to WTOS in the future. A member noted that not everyone knows about the updated accessibility options, and it was suggested that the TTC reach out for media coverage. Re-registration is moving along, with 3,526 legacy members re-registering as of September. Their target had been 3,000 for the year, this has already surpassed that goal. There was an update on the Mobile App, being launched on September 25, 2023.  A mandatory refresher training will be provided for the FOS taxi drivers, ACAT members will receive an invitation to audit. Their feedback is appreciated. The ACAT members thanked TTC for the service of calling Wheel-Trans customers 10 minutes before their pickup time, as it is helpful to remind people. One member commented there are issues with this and TTC staff agreed this feedback has also been received and there will be updates coming in the future.

WTOS Meeting Highlights:

  • Results of the Modal Usage/Diversion Survey.
  • Family of Services pilot start date.
  • Re-registration update.
  • Mobile App update.
  • Mandatory FOS recertification training.

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

13.Other/New Business 

  1. Resuming ACAT General meetings in person/hybrid
  2. Communication Etiquette
  3. Working Appeals Group

a. Resuming ACAT General meetings in person/hybrid

Cameron Penman provided more details on the upcoming meetings. He noted that the October and November meetings will remain virtual, but the ACAT General Meeting in December will be held in the 7th floor Boardroom at Head Office, which will start with a luncheon and then proceed to a hybrid meeting. He encouraged members to come out and interact with one another, but they were also welcome to join virtually. In January, the ACAT General meetings will be hybrid and held in the 7th floor Boardroom, based on the feedback from the ACAT members. As the Boardroom is not available for all of the meetings, for the time being the subcommittees will remain virtual, until such time as they can find a location that will have the required technology (microphones, video capabilities, etc.) to allow for a hybrid meeting. They are hoping space will be found sometime next year.

Questions and Comments

A member asked if the TTC had given any consideration to a suggestion from another member regarding honouring Sam Savona, late ACAT Chair and founding member. Cameron asked that they leave this with him and recommended adding this to outstanding items.

b. Communication Etiquette

Cameron explained they have been getting requests from ACAT members to share emails that are being sent to the ACAT email address. He explained that these emails are managed by Alexandra Nicastro, Administrative Assistant, Wheel-Trans, and forwarded to the ACAT Executive for a decision on how to proceed.

Questions and Comments from the Committee:

A member asked also when you are returning emails, to ensure you don’t hit reply all, unless that is what you intended to do.

c. Working Appeals Group

Erica Tanny, ACAT Co-Vice Chair explained that the conversation at the last meeting regarding forming a Subcommittee to discuss the appeals process was discussed by the ACAT Executives and they are recommending forming a Working Group, rather than a Subcommittee. They are invite as many ACAT members as possible sign up to contribute to the Working Group, as they are hoping to break into smaller groups to focus on issues. They have a lot of legitimate concerns regarding the Appeals Process and want to ensure that it is transparent and concerns are dealt with in an organized manner. They are hoping to bring recommendations to the ACAT General Meetings this year, although intend for the Working Group to be ongoing. Erica stated that they will look to staff where necessary for information, support, and assistance, if required. Everyone in the Working Group will have a voice, and although it will not be a committee, it will retain legitimacy and independence.

She will be working on administrative tasks over the next few weeks to set up the Working Group and encouraged everyone to bring their skills to this group, even if you are not directly impacted by this issue.

Questions and Comments

A member asked if there were a desired number of people they would like to see join the Working Group. Erica stated that the more members that are involved, the better. They are not worried about having too many people, they will work with as many as they can.

 A member asked if they would be working on Terms of Reference for the Working Group. Erica said that they would not be doing this right now, they want to get started as soon as they can to have some recommendations ready for this year regarding the Appeals Process.

A member asked if there was any point in ACAT members that were finishing their term joining this year and Erica stated that their input was still valuable, and they encourage them to join.


Anita Dressler reported that the Quarterly Executive meeting was held yesterday and was a very successful meeting. They had the chance to meet the new TTC Chair, Jamaal Myers. It was clear at the meeting that the TTC values the work done by ACAT and they will be involved with numerous projects with the TTC in the future.

Anita also wanted to thank Levenson Lincoln and Maria, the Manager at Bayshore. Over the last weeks, they have been working to find new locations for the appeals that are fully accessible. They have had difficulty finding places, but are working diligently to find two locations, one in the east and one in the west.

Howard Wax wanted to thank Debbie Gillespie, a past ACAT Chair for attending the meeting.

Anita Dressler stated that there is lots of hard work coming up; they should have the list of successful candidates by tomorrow and this will be brought forward to the TTC Board for approval. She thanked the members that are leaving for their valuable help, and looks forward to skilled and qualified people coming on to the Committee.

14. Next Meeting 

The next ACAT General Meeting is scheduled for October 27, 2023 at 1:00.

15. Adjournment 

The meeting was adjourned on a motion by Betty Rivington Law at 2:11 p.m.

Cindy Edwards
Recording Secretary

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