Accessible trick-or-treating is welcome at Vaughan
The Vaughan city is behind the Treat Accessibly campaign, which aims to make Halloween more inclusive.
The City of Vaughan is committed to creating an inclusive community that welcomes people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds, including on Halloween. Vaughan Council recently endorsed the Treat Accessibly program, making it Canada’s first municipality to do so.
Local and Regional Councillor Linda Jackson introduced members to Treat Accessibly, a grassroots campaign founded in 2017 by the Padulo family to make Halloween trick-or-treating more accessible and inclusive for all families, at the Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting on Sept. 28. Local and Regional Councillor Jackson introduced a Member’s Resolution supporting the Treat Accessibly program during the Oct. 5 Committee of the Whole (1) meeting, which Council passed. On Oct. 20, the Member’s Resolution will be formally ratified at a Council meeting.
According to the Treat Accessibly website, almost 400,000 Canadian youngsters identify as having a disability that may restrict them from trick-or-treating due to something as simple as stairs. Treat Accessibly presents the following methods for distributing Halloween treats in a safe and accessible manner in Vaughan and towns across North America:
- To put in your window, download a free accessible trick-or-treating sign.
- At the end of your driveway, set up a trick-or-treating station.
- Make sure the walkway leading to your trick-or-treating location is well-lit and free of obstacles.
- Avoid the use of strobe lights and loud, high-pitched noises.
- Make sure your pets are kept away from the front of the house.
Remember to be cautious when taking your family trick-or-treating this year. Follow all COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, which include wearing a mask and practicing physical separation from others.
The Treat Accessibly campaign is in line with the City’s vision of creating a barrier-free community and its goal of making the city entirely accessible by 2025.
Additionally, the city-led accessibility and diversity initiatives listed below are now in effect.
Multi-year Accessibility Plan for 2019-2022
Vaughan City Council passed the 2019-2022 Multi-year Accessibility Plan in February 2021, which outlines how the city would achieve a barrier-free environment with universal access to its programs, services, and facilities. This plan will assist to guarantee that people of all ages and abilities are treated in a way that preserves their dignity and freedom. It accomplishes this by laying out the various activities and initiatives that the City will undertake to support accessibility, including the implementation of new programs and services, the creation of accessible play spaces, the use of accessible technology, the adoption of accessible employment practices, and the attainment of additional Rick Hansen Gold Accessibility Certifications.
Gold Certification from the Rick Hansen Foundation
The Rick Hansen Foundation has recognized the City’s accessible initiatives by awarding 17 City facilities with accessibility certifications, nine of which have received Gold Certification, the foundation’s highest honor. Vaughan City Hall, Vaughan Fire and Rescue Service firehalls 7-4 and 7-10, Vaughan Civic Centre Resource Library, and a combined facility of the North Thornhill Community Centre and Pleasant Ridge Library are among them. In addition, various accessibility modifications have been placed in City facilities, including automatic door openers, tactile walking surface indicators at stair areas, and accessible seating, all of which have helped to reaching this milestone.
The Ontario Municipal Social Services Association Accessibility Award and the David C. Onley Award for Leadership in Accessibility are two more accolades the City has received for its accessibility efforts.
Advisory Committee on Accessibility
The Vaughan Accessibility Advisory Committee was formed to assist the City in meeting the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act standards by removing and preventing barriers in policies, procedures, programs, and services. The committee helped create Vaughan’s Accessibility Plan and continues to assist the community in identifying accessibility opportunities and issues. All committee meetings are listed on the Vaughan.ca meeting calendar.
Awards for Accessibility Champions
The Accessibility Champions Awards were established in 2019 by the City’s Accessibility Advisory Committee to honor individuals and organizations who promote inclusivity and accessibility throughout the city. Individuals, small businesses with less than 20 employees, medium or large businesses with 20 or more employees, and individuals with disabilities can all be nominated as Vaughan Accessibility Champions. The City of Vaughan granted this award in 2020 to four worthy individuals and businesses who advocate for accessibility and inclusion and provide goods or services to people with disabilities in the Vaughan community. The awards for 2021 are presently being planned.
Standards for Inclusive Design
The Inclusive Design Standards, which were developed in collaboration with the City’s Accessibility and Diversity Co-ordinator and Facilities Management department, allow the City to advocate for any new development in the community to be inclusive and accessible to all. These guidelines demonstrate the city’s commitment to market leadership in terms of inclusive design. The City’s requirements go above and beyond the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the Ontario Building Code. The City’s Inclusive Design Standards include examples and best practices for making buildings and other facilities as inclusive as possible, such as play areas, restrooms, trails, service counters, workplace environments, and places of worship.
“The City of Vaughan is committed to fostering an equitable, inclusive, and welcoming environment in which individuals of all ages, skills, and backgrounds can thrive.” This is because we think that everyone should have equal access to opportunities and should be able to achieve their full potential. I’d like to thank Linda Jackson, Vaughan Council’s Local and Regional Councillor, for bringing the Treat Accessibly project to Vaughan Council. We can continue to promote an inclusive and accessible community for all by supporting this fantastic movement. As folks prepare to go trick-or-treating this Halloween, I want to warn them to be cautious, wear a mask, and keep a safe distance. Our struggle against COVID-19 is far from ended, and we all bear responsibility for limiting the virus’s spread. We can keep bringing our city forward without leaving anyone behind if we all take tiny measures to remove barriers and enhance accessibility.”
Maurizio Bevilacqua, Mayor
“I was glad to introduce a Member’s Resolution in favor of the Padulo family’s Treat Accessibly project. This campaign coincides with the City of Vaughan’s accessibility priorities, with a clear mission to make Halloween more safe and inclusive for all families. I’d like to express my gratitude to my Council colleagues for unanimously supporting my proposal and the Padulo family for being strong advocates for accessibility. Through Vaughan’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, we are working to guarantee fair access for residents and tourists with disabilities. Our devoted team of individuals works relentlessly to assist the City in identifying and removing barriers in all sectors of civic life. As Chair, I am privileged to work with people who are passionate about accessibility and who can assist us in reaching our goal of becoming a fully accessible community by 2025. This year, I invite everyone to download a free accessible trick-or-treating sign to put in their window. We can pave the road for a more accessible future and ensure that everyone has a good time this Halloween if we work together.”
- Linda Jackson, a local and regional councillor
“Our family founded Treat Accessibly to make it safer for one of our children to trick-or-treat at our house because we have stairs out front and he uses a wheelchair.” By 2020, approximately 40,000 houses had participated in a Treat Accessibly Halloween, and we expect that figure to rise to more than 100,000 this year. Our vision to make Halloween more accessible has grown into a national movement with the help of communities across Canada. I’d want to express my gratitude to Linda Jackson, Vaughan’s Local and Regional Councillor, for pushing our effort in Vaughan and other members of Council for their continuous support. Thank you to everyone who treated Accessibly with respect. Everyone have a safe and enjoyable Halloween!”
- Rich Padulo, Treat Accessibly’s Founder
FACTS IN A NUTSHELL
- Local and Regional Councillor Linda Jackson introduced Treat Accessibly at the Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting on September 28, 2021. A Member’s Resolution was also drafted for consideration by the City of Vaughan.
- The City of Vaughan is the first municipality in Canada to declare the Treat Accessibly project.
- The Padulo family established Treat Accessibly in 2017 as a grassroots campaign to make Halloween trick-or-treating accessible and inclusive for all families.
- Treat Accessibly suggests that families distribute things in a safe and accessible manner by printing a free accessible trick-or-treating sign to hang in their windows or setting up a trick-or-treating station at the end of their driveway.
- Remember to be cautious when taking part in Halloween celebrations. COVID-19 health and safety standards, such as wearing a mask and keeping a safe distance, must be followed by citizens.
- By 2025, the city hopes to have created an accessible community.