At their latest round of budget deliberations on Tuesday, members of Peachland council were presented with a capital request for $40,000 for Heritage Park washroom stairs.
The washrooms were delivered to Heritage Park last September to complete an Interior Health requirement for the adjacent splash pad.
Director of finance Garry Filafilo prefaced the discussion by noting the expenditure would be coming from Community Works, so it has no taxation effect.
“What we’ve determined is that with building code requirements on a public building like that, the stairs are going to require concrete pylons and things like that so that has increased the cost,” said Filafilo.
Filafilo noted that the washrooms won’t be wheelchair accessible so wheelchair users will need to use the washrooms across the street.
“$40,000 and no ramp?” asked Mayor Cindy Fortin.
“It does seem high. I mean, with the cost of materials and everything we have to do for the building permit, it is a bit more,” said director of operations Shawn Grundy. “Looking at a ramp additionally, would be just roughly, I asked the contractor and he said it would be another $25,000 – $30,000 just for the ramp. In looking at the potential that we might be shifting this washroom at some point, as has been mentioned in previous council meetings, we thought it more prudent to do the cheaper version.”
“I have to say I’m very uncomfortable with the idea of having a washroom that isn’t accessible,” said Coun. Keith Fielding. “To my mind, the better solution would be to not have that washroom there at all and then everybody can use the accessible washroom across the street. Now I know that is under consideration, but to spend $40,000 to access a washroom that isn’t acceptable to my mind, makes no sense. I think we really need to visit this whole thing as to the status of the washrooms, including getting back to Interior Health if they are insisting on some other facility being there. But I have great difficulty supporting this expenditure for something that’s going to end up as inaccessible to wheelchair users and if it’s not going to be accessible to wheelchair users, I can’t imagine why a set a stairs leading into it would cost $40,000. It just doesn’t seem to add up to me so I need a lot more information about this one.”
Mayor Fortin inquired if it would be possible to get the extra money out of Community Works to build the ramp.
“I think it would be better if it just disappeared to somewhere else and we relied on the washroom across the street,” said Fielding. “I don’t know whether we sell it or move it somewhere else, it’s just ugly and it’s dysfunctional.”
Chief administrative officer Joe Creron noted that more than just stairs are required, as the building code requires them to build a whole deck. In addition, a drinking fountain is a requirement, he said.
“I will personally, with Shawn, work with IHA to see if there’s anything we can do,” said Creron. “We kind of got ourselves into a jackpot with this big washroom. I just need a little time work with Shawn and IHA to see if there’s something we can do to maybe use the washrooms on an interim basis but get the cost down. I’ll be honest with you, I struggle with $40,000, period, but I don’t know if I have much of an option if I have one, a building code being required, and the other, IHA.”
Coun. Patrick Van Minsel said he is in agreement with Coun. Fielidng that $40,000 is “out of proportion.”
“Maybe this washroom could go to 13th Street, where we really need it, because we have a lot of people using that intersection,” said Van Minsel.
“My personal opinion on that washroom is it’s ugly and it blocks part of the view. Had I had any idea that that’s what we were going to get, and I think it cost $100,000, I wouldn’t have been in favour of it,” said Fortin.
Council members agreed to leave the item in the budget until the CAO returns with more information from Interior Health.