A $40,000 expenditure for washroom stairs at Heritage Park will go ahead as planned, Peachland council concluded last Tuesday.
During last month’s budget deliberations members of Peachland council were presented with a capital request for $40,000 for stairs to the new washrooms that were delivered to Heritage Park last September.
Stairs were suggested because a ramp option would cost even more, according to staff.
The washrooms are an Interior Health requirement that must be satisfied before the splash pad can open. District staff suggested that the requirement might be reversible, but they returned from a meeting with IHA with only bad news for members of council.
Director of operations Shawn Grundy told council that he and CAO Joe Creron met with Interior Health and were told they could contest the requirement, which would then go out for peer review to determine if it is reasonable or not. But that process moves slowly, warned Grundy.
“If we put that out there, I could almost guarantee we wouldn’t have that splash pad open until fall, maybe, if we’re lucky.”
Grundy said if the town wants to change out the washrooms for something else, that too would require IHA approval, which would also present a delay in the opening of the splash pad.
The expenditure will be coming from Community Works, so it has no taxation effect, yet some members of council expressed frustration with the project’s escalating costs.
“We need to go back to the drawing board, revisit everything, and sell that washroom,” said Coun. Patrick Van Minsel. “I did some investigation and it’s worth now around $150,000 unused so it’s maybe the time to sell it, recuperate the money and think about other solutions because we cannot keep on putting money into this project. It’s leaking money on all sides and I cannot vote for this.”
Van Minsel asked his colleagues to defer a discussion about the washroom expenditure so a better solution could be found.
Councillors Fielding and Condon voted to defer, but they were outnumbered by the remaining members of council.
“There is absolutely no way that I am going to support opening a washroom that is not accessible. I think that is, in this day and age, just unthinkable,” said Coun. Keith Fielding. “I would like to see this whole thing gone and we start this over with some other different approach to meeting the IHA requirement.”
“IHA seems to conveniently forget that for 25 years we’ve had a children’s playground at that park with washrooms across the street. This just doesn’t make any sense to me at all,” said Coun. Terry Condon.
Mayor Cindy Fortin said people would be furious and disappointed if the splash pad doesn’t open this year.
“The result of not opening that splash pad by the May long weekend and World of Wheels would be a tragedy, I think. People have been waiting for it for so long,” said Fortin.
Fortin encouraged staff to find an accessible ramp option that would fit within the $40,000 set aside for stairs.