Tag Archives: Hamilton

40,000 people can’t be wrong


The Lancaster will take to the skies during Hamilton’s airshow.

Superman won’t be in the skies this weekend but the aerobatic displays of aviation will draw more than 40,000 people to Hamilton’s International Airport.

The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum will host its third Hamilton Airshow on June 15 and 16 after a 10-year hiatus. It originally began in 1975.

The airshow event draws people from all over the world, from Europe to New Zealand, said Al Mickeloff, marketing and advertiser of the Hamilton Airshow.

“We always have a large gathering of vintage aircraft because we are a vintage aircraft museum,” he explained. “One highlight this year is the Mosquito, which is making its first airshow appearance in North America and we’re getting it here in Hamilton.”

Originally built in Toronto during the Second World War, the Mosquito is unique because it is wooden.

Used as a fighter plane or a bomber, it was a very fast aircraft compared to most bombers that were typically slow.

“This particular aircraft has been under restoration in New Zealand for an American owner for several years,” said Mickeloff, noting it’s supposed to be the restoration of all restorations. “We have people coming in from all over the world to see this particular aircraft because this is the only one in flying condition and there hasn’t been one around in many years.”

Hamilton-born “Super Dave” Mathieson, whose claim to fame was being voted #1 aerobatic pilot in Canada . . . by his mom, will also perform at the airshow.

Designed for plus or minus 16Gs with a roll rate of 500 degrees per second, Mathieson will be flying the world’s most advanced aerobatic aircraft called the MX2 – its top speed is 300 miles per hour.

On the ground, there will be more than 30 aircraft and crew, with some aircraft open for tours. The Museum’s flagship Second World War bomber, the Avro Lancaster, one of two in the world that is still capable of flying, is another attraction. Rare German planes, such as the FW190 and ME 262, an appearance from the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Snowbirds, and a reenactment of a WWII Aircraft dogfight, are also scheduled.

Unfortunately, there will be no rides during the event.

Residents are encouraged to purchase tickets prior to the event through its website. Advanced tickets sales ($27 for adults 16 +, $18 for children age six to 15) will close at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 14.

Adult tickets at the gate are $30, and $20 for children. Gates will open for the Hamilton Airshow at 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 15 and Sunday, June 16.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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Ancaster businesses to connect internationally with new marketing group

A new group in Ancaster will allow businesses to network internationally with like-minded organizations.

The Business Networking International (BNI) Professional Excellence Ancaster chapter will be a part of the world’s largest networking organization and is set to launch on May 9, noted President Margaret Heesters.

As a member, the chapter allows businesses to connect internationally to other members of BNI chapters.

“If I have a friend who’s moving to Saskatchewan and is looking for a realtor, my first step is to contact a BNI chapter in Saskatchewan and look for a realtor there,” said Heesters.

In Canada, there are 284 chapters and in the past year, Canadian chapters passed $149 million dollars worth of business to other members.

There was $3.3 billion dollars generated worldwide.

Heesters was formerly a member of a BNI chapter in Brantford before she decided to open up a chapter in Ancaster because she found most of her services and clients were in that area.

When the Ancaster chapter initially began in January, it had 10 members, she noted.

There are currently 25 members representing different professions, including pest control, web design, a travel agent, a chiropractor and a nutritionist.

“The interesting thing about BNI is that it’s an exclusive membership, which means there’s only one real estate agent per group, one mortgage broker per group, or one financial advisor,” she explained. “When I contact businesses that might have an interest in our networking group, I ask them two questions: are you looking to grow your business and would referrals help your business? If your answer is yes, then BNIs are great for them to join.”

Heesters expects around 125 people will be attending the event, which will introduce the group to the community.

“The more exposure we get, the more opportunity we have to invite new members into our group and to let people know that we’re in Ancaster,” she said.

Regular meetings are held every Thursday from 12 to 1:30 p.m. and is kept at 90 minutes.

There is an application process but business professionals are first invited to a meeting to see if the chapter is a good fit for their business and vice versa.

References are also checked before membership is accepted.

Tickets are $20 and deadline to register is May 3. The event will run from 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Knollwood Golf Club (914 Book Road W.).

For more information email Heesters or contact her at 905-512-5741.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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Candle store a new spark on Ottawa Street

Of the 52 available candles at Wick’d Wax Creations, each homemade and handcrafted candle is a delicate process of mathematics and chemistry.

Wes Fletcher and his newly opened candle store.

Wes Fletcher and his newly opened candle store.

From the number of drops of oils to the slight adjustments in colouring, each candle is uniquely different.

“I use a liquid dye and essential oils in my candles, so one candle varies from another candle,” explained owner Wes Fletcher. “A grape juice candle may have an X number of drops, lets say 10 drops, while a vanilla candle may only have two drops of fragrance to work with that candle.”

Each candle also has a different wick, with some fragrances more powerful than others, and usually takes him a day to create.

“The substance of a fragrance is sometimes harder to burn so you have to figure out the math of that particular candle,” he added. “Each colour is slightly different for each candle, and ideas for scents are sometimes requested and sometimes my own.”

His goal is to eventually carry 100 fragrances in his store on Ottawa Street.

Fletcher’s interest in candle making began over a decade ago when he started working part-time for a company that made candles in a honey barn.

“I thought it was interesting and when I went to Niagara College, I decided to do my coop with them,” he said.

From there he worked from the ground up and became the manager at a candle store before branching out with a couple of friends to open his own store.

“I decided to take a hiatus but I recently got my equipment back last year and started making candles again in my living room,” said Fletcher, noting he started promoting his products at craft shows in Hamilton before opening his store.

Popular fragrances include Wine & Roses, which has the soft scent of roses and a dash of wine, as well as the China Rain, which has a soft floral base.

Another product Fletcher was inspired to create includes his Fire Starters, which consists of recycled wax and wood chips put together in a cupcake like container.

“All you have to do is nestle them inside the logs of a wood stove or campfire, which also helps eliminate the use of newspapers or kindling,” he explained.

The Fire Starters take around 20 minutes to get started and also provides a soft fragrance.

All his candles are made with a petroleum byproduct (paraffin wax), though Fletcher aims to expand the line to include soy and beeswax.

Wick’d Wax Creations will celebrate its grand opening on May 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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Hamilton flight school takes to the skies

A local flight training company is taking off at a steady pace after initial turbulence when it first launched a year ago.

REDBIRD FMX-1000 full motion flight training device.

REDBIRD FMX-1000 full motion flight training device.

With its popular in-house flight simulator and Cessna 172, Golden Horseshoe Aviation continues to grow by filling a niche of interested aviators and those who wish to take to the skies.

Located in JetPort’s facility (Unit 520, 9300 Airport Road) at John A. Munro’s Hamilton International Airport, the REDBIRD FMX-1000 full motion flight-training device has drawn aviators from all over the world.

The simulator was purchased eight months ago at a cost of $85,000.

“The advantage is that it doesn’t use any fuel, insurance is much less and it flies no matter what the weather is outside,” said Chief Flight Instructor and co-owner John Maxwell. “If a student is scheduled for every Tuesday afternoon, on days with bad weather there are a lot of lessons that we can do in there.”

“One of the capabilities of it is that an instrument rated (qualified) pilot has to renew their ratings every two years,” said Maxwell. “Traditionally this is done in a multi-engine airplane at $350-$400 an hour, rented by a pilot for several hours to brush up, before a flight test is completed for the examiner.”

Along with examiner fees, the cost to renew a pilot’s license in Canada can add up to thousands. However, testing can now be completed on the ground, in house and with an in-house examiner for $599.

It was in 2011 when Maxwell and the Chief Executive Officer Michael Geraghty flew past Hamilton’s airport and Maxwell noted the size of the airport and the city.

Maxwell was quick to point out Hamilton didn’t have its own flight school. The last time Hamilton had its own flight school was in 2008.

“Soon the conversation turned into an idea, then into business and then a business plan,” said Maxwell, adding the process took about a year.

The company has four instructors though they expect to hire a few more by the end of the year to teach the growing number of students. There are around 30 students at the moment.

Chief Flight Instructor John Maxwell with the Cessna 172.

Chief Flight Instructor John Maxwell with the Cessna 172.

As the company gears up to celebrate its first anniversary on May 1, the flight instructor noted they are in the process of importing a Diamond DA-200 to add to its fleet.

“It’s a really fun two-seat plane that comes with a canopy on top that provides a panoramic view,” he said. “We liken the Cessna 172 to taking your dad’s pickup truck, while the Diamond is like borrowing mom’s convertible.”

The new airplane will open up another avenue because it appeals to another market base.

In five years, Maxwell hopes to see his fleet expand to eight to 10 airplanes.

“We want to draw more general aviation to the Hamilton airport because there’s not a lot of small piston powered airplanes in this airport,” he said. “We hope to be an anchor tenant here and attract some of that attention back.”

Samantha Mincone, a student at the centre, spends a lot of time at the centre but noted training can be taken at your own pace.

As someone who has always been interested in aviation and planes, Micone looked up the flight school and signed up.

“I like that this is at a large airport too, because you get to deal with the big planes as well as the smaller ones on the runway and in the air,” she said. “It’s great to be able to speak with the tower and you’re able to learn quickly.”

She hopes to complete her flight certification in a few months. Transport Canada requires a mandatory 45 hours flight training as a minimum before certification, but Maxwell noted students should budget for 60 hours.

According to statistics, the national average is around 55 hours of flight training.

Time in a flight stimulator can amount to five hours, though students are also required to complete at least 40 hours of ground school training.

“We use computer based training modules, the flight simulator, teach in the boardroom with small classes, and take them out flying as much as we can,” said Maxwell.

Students can fly with a student pilot permit, which means they are able to fly solo with supervision.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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Hamilton bra school aims for prime time TV

And it’s a cut.


Beverly Johnston (centre) teaches some students how to make a corset.

Hamilton’s Bra-makers Supply is aiming for the stars with its own television series on prime time.

As the only teaching program of its kind in the world, Bra-makers Supply attracts international attention from individuals who flock to Ottawa Street North to take courses.

But last year, owner Beverly Johnson had a visit from someone looking for something else.

“We were approached to create a reality TV show about the school and the store, which I thought was a great idea because it would educate people about the needs of creating your own bra,” explained Johnson, also known as the Fairy Bramother.

Almost a year after the initial pitch, Lifetime, a small U.S. network, launched Atlanta-based Double Divas and Johnson knew she had to pitch the idea again.

The idea for the TV series would be pitched to Slice TV sometime this week.

“At the time it was pitched to all the women’s networks but it was turned down,” she added.

Where the front of her store sells top quality, professional and bra-making supplies, her backroom is a classroom where she teaches individuals how to make intimate apparel, including bras, corsets, underwear, swim wear and body shapers. The store itself has attracted students from all over the world.

Courses range from the one-day underwear ($100) to a 10-day corsetiere’s course ($1,000). The Made-to-Measure Bra-Making course for advanced students runs nine weeks, at five days a week and attracts individuals from Italy, Sweden, England and Africa.

Johnson estimates she has taught more than 10,000 women, from accountants to doctors to waitresses.

Bra-makers Supply opened 14 years ago and sales and interest have steadily increased.

Internet purchases and online requests are the biggest part of her business but classes and walk-in traffic have also increased over the years. In its first year, she noted it grew 50 per cent from $18,000 and another 30 per cent in its second year.

As her business stabilized, she noted it still continues to increase 20 per cent on average per year.

“Now classes alone account for $80,000,” said Johnson. “After I wrote my first text book (roughly 200 pages in December 2005), sales doubled. After each publication of my text book or patterns, sales will always jump.”

Tallying over 500 pages in total, Bra-makers Manual Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, along with her other books and her Pin-Up Girl Patterns have been translated to French and German.

Wendy Chisholm, owner of Elegant Silhouettes in London, Ont., noted she heard about the bra-making store after taking a course from a former student of Johnson’s.

“I love to sew and I can never find a good fitting bra so I thought I would give it a shot,” said Chisholm.

Taking the course for the first time on how to make a corset, Shayla Notman, 19, aims to use this experience in her own store, Smitten.

“It’s a really good pace,” said Notman, whose store opens on May 3 and features vintage-inspired clothing. If you know a lot about sewing and construction, you can go as fast as you need to, but if you need help you’re welcome to ask questions. It’s a comfortable atmosphere and really awesome to be in a class with three people.”

Along with teaching her classes, Johnson will be heading to Alaska next month with 80 students to teach a course, as well as Sweden in August for two weeks.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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New businesses a bright light on Barton Street

It’s been slow going but the upswing on Barton Street was one of the reasons Maria Daniel decided to open her creperie there.

Maria Daniel making a crepe.

Maria Daniel making a crepe.

Hargitai’s, her Hungarian maiden name, will be celebrating its first year on April 13 and though it faces the same challenges of all businesses in its first year, Daniel stands by her choice of location.

“There’s no denying the real estate is much more affordable here than anywhere else,” she explained. “I also look at it from a sentimental perspective. This area needs happy things and legitimate business, as well as people who are willing to take the risk and jump in.”

Located at the heart of Barton Village (304 Barton Street E.), Daniel noted the street has already improved but there is a long way to go.

“This area didn’t get like this over night and it’s sure not going to fix itself overnight either,” she said. “Some people have a pre-conceived notion about Barton Street and because of this, they don’t want to come to Barton Street but I strongly urge them to overcome those notions and give this area a chance.”

Developers from Yoke Group Inc. are also hoping renovations to a recently purchased building will slowly shed the negative view people have of the street.

Anthony Quattrociocchi and Eric Cardillo of Yoke Group Inc. inside their newly renovated building on Barton Street.

“It’s not like we’re buying here expecting miracles to happen overnight, but we see potential with the growth here and we hope to bring proper businesses back into the area,” Anthony Quattrociocchi said of Barton Street.

Anthony Quattrociocchi and Eric Cardillo of Yoke Group Inc. inside their newly renovated building on Barton Street.

Anthony Quattrociocchi and Eric Cardillo of Yoke Group Inc. inside their newly renovated building on Barton Street.

Decisions are based on a five-year outlook and where the company believes a location will be in five years, he explained.

Much of the properties on Barton Street have been left alone without maintenance over the last 10 to 20 years, Quattrociochhi added, but they remain in their natural state.

“We look for nice buildings that we think we can bring back to life and Barton Street has a lot of those buildings,” he explained. “We want to get the ball rolling. When people see you doing the renovations it entices them and makes them look at their building.”

The 12 unit building was bought on Nov. 1 last year with renovations completed late January. It has four commercial units and eight residential rooms that features two bedrooms, 10-foot ceilings, and over 1,000 square feet of space.

A bicycle repair shop is slated to open on April 1 in one of the commercial units, but there is already a waiting list for the residential apartments. His partner Eric Cardillo noted development on the street is slow but it’s very similar to what occurred on Ottawa Street and what’s currently happening on James Street.

Two small businesses that have been on the street for over 50 years welcome the sight of new development.

With its butchered meat and freshly prepared sandwiches, Duartes’ Supermarket has been a corner store staple for many families and blue-collar workers.

Alcino Duarte, who intends to take over when his parents retire, noted much of the changes on the street are also reflected in the population.

Twenty years ago Duarte recalls most of the residents were Italian, while 10 years ago the population was mostly Portuguese. Now the community has become a mixed culture as the Portuguese families move out to the more urban areas.


Victor Duarte (left) and Alcino Duarte (centre) with their
friend Victor inside Duartes’ Supermarket.

“Duartes’ still offers the same prices as 20 years ago and the price increases hasn’t been reflected in our store,” he explained. “Barton Street is an area that has a lot of low-income families, including problems with drugs and prostitution… but recent changes such as the banners hung from the side of light posts, are good for the community.”

In operation since 1915, Kenesky Sports and Cycle has seen the transformation that has occurred on Barton Street.

“It was good back in the late 60s and early 70s, then it became crappy before it came back a bit,” explained owner Joel Hulsman. “It went (downhill) again when the Wesley Centre opened up, which is a drop-in centre for the homeless.”

However, Hulsman noted things are starting to change with the addition of the hospital, the upgraded elementary school, and new businesses on the street.

“The upgrades (Yoke Group) did to the building have been great,” Hulsman said. “In five years, Barton Street is going to be vibrant.”

Barton Village BIA Executive Director Shelly Wonch believes the area is heading in the right direction.

“We’re really on a roll and we’re in the right direction even if there’s a long way to go. We have to deal with the business owners with buildings that are all boarded up,” she said. “We have to get the landlords to take responsibility, gain an interest and fix up their buildings.”

Though the street has always been a launching pad for Hamilton, there hasn’t been too much activity in the real estate market around the area, said President Elect Tim Mattioli of the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington.

“Barton Street will always be there and have its own strength but that changes with each generation,” he said.

Hamilton’s downtown core is an example of what can be done to rejuvenate Barton Street, when blocks of properties are bought and either rebuilt or repurposed, explained Mattioli.

“It’s hard to rejuvenate a place without development,” Mattioli said. “One of the biggest problems is that people believe Barton Street is a dangerous place, but it’s not. The beauty of Barton Street is that it maintains the neighbourhood vibe lost in many urban areas.”

People tend to think progress has to be big and shiny, but that’s not the case, he added.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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Academy of Osteopathy has set up a shop on Ottawa Street

The 140-student Canadian Academy of Osteopathy has set up shop on Ottawa Street.

Academy principal Robert Johnston launched the school on Melvin Avenue in 2003 but when he decided to expand he looked to Ottawa Street.

“I’ve had great support from the community over the years and (Ottawa Street) is going to be one of the most important streets in Hamilton in several years,” he said, noting as a Hamilton native, he is committed to his hometown. “I’ve been asked more than once to move the school to Toronto but I’ll be keeping it in Hamilton.”

A former Canadian Tire at Ottawa and Dunsmure has been converted to classroom space.

Osteopathy looks at the relationship between the anatomy and the physiology of the human body. Students are taught to address the anatomical and physiological reasoning for problems, and to choose the appropriate technique to address it.

There are currently around 140 students from around the world enrolled with the school. Students have the option of enrolling in September or April, with a 12-month rotation of six months in class and six months of clinical training.

Prior to becoming an osteopath, Johnston was a massage therapist looking for treatment for a neck condition that had ailed him for several years.

He attended an osteopathy session with Dr. Alfred Reid Johnston in Waterdown and issues he had disappeared.

“I was blown away by his ability to rectify the problem that had bothered me for years,” Johnston said, noting he shortly thereafter started educating himself about osteopathy in the United States and the United Kingdom, before returning to Canada.

Johnston studied under one of the founding fathers of osteopathy, John Wernham. As an independent school that maintains its own autonomy, the staff remains accountable for what students learn, he added.

There are various options for those interested in attending osteopathy classes, from entering straight from high school to pursuing it after completing an undergraduate degree.

The 1:4 to 1:6 teacher-student ratios also allow for individual attention for students to learn in a close-knit classroom for four years of learning, with an option to extend classes to five years.

The Canadian Academy of Osteopathy also operates out of the Melvin campus, using its rooms for practical workshops and a student clinic. The student clinics are free to the public, and patients can drop in more than once for ongoing care.

Students are required to complete 1,000 volunteer hours as a part of their studies.

“We are very dedicated to community-based services, and this is one of the ways we give back to the community,” said Johnston. “I’m very committed to bringing Hamilton forward and having the (academy) in Hamilton is to give the city recognition.”

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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Filling vacant storefronts tops new strategic plan for Barton Village BIA

Vacant property will be open for viewing as the Barton Village BIA

Barton Village BIA gateways.

Barton Village BIA gateways.

looks for ways to fill empty storefronts.

Vacant businesses and access to the area are high on the BIA’s list of things to do in a new strategic plan adopted last November.

A city officials says the approach worked well when it was tried on Ottawa Street.

“The Ottawa Street BIA did this around 15 years ago because it had a similar problem and you can now see the results,” said Michael Marini, marketing co-ordinator of the City of Hamilton’s Economic Development Department. “It was one of the efforts to bring people back to the street and the vacancy rate has dramatically reduced on Ottawa Street.”

The Barton Village BIA discussed marketing the area at a meeting Marini attended last month and the idea of a real estate viewing was brought up.

“You have to start marketing the properties because they are available properties,” he explained.

The new strategic plan also looks at accessibility to visitors, investment in the village, beautification of the streets and the enforcement of city bylaws, explained executive director Shelly Wonch. The BIA is also investigating a farmer’s market.

“We’re directly working with the Economic Development department at City Hall and they have business development consultants that we’re working with us regarding our vacancies,” Wonch said. She said an open house of properties will take place in the spring or early summer.

The BIA also wants to make Barton Village easier to visit.

“We want to be one of the most accessible districts in Hamilton,” said Wonch. “The BIA and community partners are currently working on increasing the accessibility as we renew our neighbourhood.”

This isn’t just washrooms in restaurants, but also accessibility on the streets and safety of street corners.

Plans are moving along quickly but major changes and developments will take place over the next three to five years.

“Barton Village is an affordable area and it’s growing and renewing itself,” said Wonch. “If businesses would like to invest in an area that is changing and growing, they should come and see us; there’s a lot of opportunities here for all businesses, not just retail.”

The 25-year-old BIA takes in the largest area in the city. Recent initiatives include gateway signs in the east and west end of the village.

The signs were designed by City of Hamilton architect David Zimmer with direction from the BIA and light up at night.

“It’s a nice addition to the village that welcomes people into the area,” said Wonch.

The BIA has been invited to sit on the Community Advisory Committee of the Pan Am Committee and will become an active participant in the 2015 Pan Am Games.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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New Korean restaurant to open at Main and Locke

A new Korean restaurant at the corner of Main and Locke Street will be “welcoming the people” when it opens on March 12.

Manager Bobby Cho inside his new restaurant.

Manager Bobby Cho inside his new restaurant.

Alirang (pronounced Ah-ri-rang) is Bobby Cho’s second restaurant, but first in Hamilton.

Cho, 58, has been in the food industry since he was 25, and said the name of his restaurant is based on a famous traditional song that describes a touching love story from the Koryo Kingdom 1,000 years ago.

Cho said the original meaning of the word Alirang is “welcome to the people.”

“In Ottawa (where he opened his first restaurant in 2000), most of our clients are from the University of Ottawa and the Chinese Student Association,” explained Cho.“We found out that t here was a bigger membership with the Chinese Student Association at McMaster University, so when we looked to expand, we came to Hamilton.”

It features authentic Korean food and plenty of seasonally based side dishes. Two master chefs from Korea will work in the kitchen.

“These are real, experienced cooks imported from Korea,” Cho said. “The two chefs have been training at the Ottawa restaurant for the past two months but will be arriving (in Hamilton) on Monday to prepare for the opening on Tuesday.”

Along with the two chefs, there will be three other kitchen staff.

Cho has already hired eight students for part-time positions, and expects to hire up to 15 staff to assist in the front.

“We’re looking to hire more students because it’s all part-time positions since they’re all studying at school,” he said.

One of the most popular dishes that Cho believes Hamiltonians will enjoy is gamjatang, which is a spicy pork stew with vegetables.

Alirang will be open seven days a week, from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz.

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Small businesses face tough challenges adapting to access laws

Eight weeks ago, the 360,000 businesses in Ontario were supposed to have been in compliance with legislation under the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service Standard, part of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

No one is sure how many businesses have completed the process.

What is known is that while many businesses agree with the principle, many know little about it or what they need to do to comply.

The purpose of the Customer Service Standard is to identify and remove barriers that would prevent people with disabilities from accessing goods and services. But communication between the government andbusinesses could be better, said Lisa Lehmann, a business development manager for PATH Employment Services.

“I’m finding that businesses really don’t know much about their responsibilities and a lot of work can be done in that capacity,” she said. “More can be done to engage businesses.”

PATH Employment Services and its new program Accessibility 360 is assisting businesses wade through the paperwork each standard requires.

The Customer Service Standard requires small businesses with fewer than 20 employees to fulfill 10 requirements, including the creation of an established policy, practice and procedure manual that conforms to the principals of the legislation. The manual includes the use of assistive devices, service animals, notice of disruptions (for any renovations and a timeline), and a feedback process.

For businesses with more than 20 employees, there are three additional requirements: the manual must be documented and available, businesses must register online with the Minister of Community and Social Services, and must notify customers that all policies are available. The manuals should be available upon request.

Companies must also take the time to familiarize their employees with the standards in the policy manual.

Lehmann noted businesses could register to complete a group session ($100 to $1,000), a webinar (at the cost of $35 per person), or purchase a disc that allows employees to complete training in their own time.

“At most it’s an hour training,” she said. “We try to make the process as least cumbersome as possible for the employer and employees. For example, with the disc, employees can take an hour of their time to complete the training whenever possible.”

The disc also has a pre- and post-test for an employee to confirm they’ve completed the training.

It’s a mandatory task but it can be a tedious task for small- and medium-sized companies to complete the necessary forms, noted Cheryl Bowden, office administrator for Hamilton’s Allegra, a marketing, printing and copying company.

“It wasn’t anything I didn’t expect and we’re not in retail so we don’t have a lot of walk-in clients or delivery, but we do have to post the information and take the time to do so,” she explained.

As a company with more than 20 employees, including full-time, part-time and contract workers, Allegra isn’t big enough to have its own human resources officer to assist with completing the necessary forms.

“It takes a lot of extra time but it does need to be done,” she said. “We’ve always been accessible and accommodating with our clients. If someone is in a wheelchair we would meet them downstairs instead of in our boardroom because our building doesn’t have an elevator.”

Hamilton’s Downtown BIA marketing and communications co-ordinator Kerry Jarvi said many businesses are unaware of what needs to be done to comply with AODA.

“People don’t understand how much it will affect them,” said Jarvi. “There are changes that need to be made and they need to be made aware of the changes. Right now it’s more about educating businesses about what affects them.”

Maxine Carter, the access and equity co-ordinator with the City, noted both public and private businesses are required to implement and complete all the standards as they roll out.

“The Information and Communication Standard, along with the Employment Standard, are the next to be phased in,” explained Carter, noting the city is working to update its website to comply with the Information and Communication Standard. “(The standards) did have certain items that had to be implemented for January 2013, but those were fairly easy things to do. In my view, the public has been given an ample amount of time to complete most of the items to date.”

Some small businesses may disagree and may find some requirements difficult to complete, but the province does provide a lot of support for the small businesses and private sector, she added.

Members of the public can notify the province if they feel businesses aren’t meeting their needs as outlined in the legislation.

“The number (of people with disabilities) is always rising because as people age they do develop some disabilities,” Carter said. “Our aging population is quite significant and not just in Hamilton.”

By the year 2036, one in five Ontarians will have a disability as the population ages. Enforcement of the accessibility standards will be ensured by the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment.

Implementation of the standards will be monitored through audits and inspections, with a system in place to track compliance by reviewing the mandatory submitted reports. Companies and organizations persistently in non-compliance would face other enforcement measures, including monetary penalties or prosecution.

Though the government noted its focus is to provide assistance to organizations, a penalty can be issued with fines starting at $200, up to $15,000. This depends on the severity of impact the non-compliance could have on people with disabilities.

“Customer Services Standards is just the start and we’re really encouraging employers to start thinking about focusing on the current and future standards,” said Lehmann.

Changes to AODA began in 2005 with the implementation of different standards beginning with the customer service standard. This will be followed by information and communication, employment, the built environment, and transportation.

The goal is to make Ontario fully accessible by 2025.

Twenty years may seem like a long time, but changes within the act are huge. They include:

Timeline for compliance to AODA standards:
Customer Service Standard
Public Sector deadline was January 1, 2012
Private Sector, Non-profit, non-designated public sector businesses and organizations was January 1, 2012 with an on-line reporting of December 31, 2012

Information and Communications Standard
For the Government of Ontario and the Legislative Assembly, January 1, 2014
For large designated public sector organizations, January 1, 2015
For small designated public sector organizations, January 1, 2016

In this regard, the City of Hamilton is working to update its website by 2015.

Employment Standard
Large designated public sector organizations, January 1, 2014
Small designated public sector organizations, January 1, 2015
Large organizations (50 or more employees), January 1, 2016
Small organizations (at least one but fewer than 50 employees), January 1, 2017

The Transportation and Built Environment Standards have yet to be announced.

Originally posted in Your Hamilton Biz. 

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