A special council meeting to discuss the Heritage Park splash pad washrooms, called by Councillors Terry Condon and Patrick Van Minsel, failed to reverse a council decision made on Apr. 19 to keep the washrooms so the splash pad can open soon.
The washrooms, which cost approximately $100,000, were delivered to Heritage Park last September to fulfill an Interior Health requirement for the adjacent splash pad.
Then, during budget deliberations in March, Peachland council were presented with an additional $40,000 capital expenditure request for a set of stairs leading into the washrooms, which raised some concerns at the council table around the escalating cost of the project as well as the lack of accessibility for wheelchair users and the size and location of the washrooms.
Stairs were suggested because a ramp option would cost even more, according to staff.
District staff promised to revisit Interior Health to see if the requirement for the washrooms could be reversed, but they returned to council on Apr. 19 to say that unfortunately, IHA’s decision stands and if changes were made at this stage it would result in a further delay in opening the splash pad.
A suggestion that they install port-a-potties instead received a “hard no” from Interior Health, according to operations director Shawn Grundy’s report delivered at Monday’s special meeting.
Coun. Condon called the special meeting to say this to his council colleagues:
“I learned a little more about IHA, their decision-making process and how others are dealing with some of the red tape and the demands that they feel are being unreasonably imposed by IHA,” said Condon. “My source must remain confidential, but it is from a source that we would all recognize. I can assure you it is reliable.”
Condon went on to say he learned that rather than move forward with their projects burdened with what they see as unreasonable and excessively expensive IHA requirements, other jurisdictions have chosen to put a short term hold on implementation, pending what he was told is “an expected succession driven realignment within IHA, which is expected to result in a significantly more cooperative approach and return to reasonableness and common sense.”
The View reached out to Interior Health about Condon’s remarks and received this in response:
“BC Guidelines for Pool Design provide guidance for various aspects of pool and pool enclosure design, including washrooms. Environmental public health considers safety and sanitation of pools in deciding to issue a construction permit. Concerns were raised with the safety of children crossing the street from the spray pad to access the washrooms. Appropriate washrooms are also important to support good personal hygiene which helps maintain a sanitary pool environment. We continue discussions with Peachland to find an appropriate solution for these washrooms.”
The information brought forward by Condon failed to convince his colleagues to reverse their decision about opening the washrooms.
“I can’t put much weight in an anonymous source that will not be named for some rumour that may or may not occur for some policy changes that may or may not be implemented,” said Coun. Mike Kent. “I’m not totally in favour of selling the washroom. I believe that it could easily be repurposed within the district and provide very good value.”
“I too would not feel comfortable going on hearsay from an unidentified individual saying this is going to happen,” said Fortin. “I feel this is going to cost us a lot more if we wait then if we just put on some stairs or a ramp . . . I just feel for the safety’s sake of young children playing in that area, that it would be much better for them to have a washroom right there that they can use, and after all, it’s all about safety.”
Coun. Pete Coolio said he doesn’t like anonymous sources, uncertain procedures and protocols changing.
“It’s like hitching your wagon to a horse that isn’t quite there yet,” said Coolio. “I’m more interested in investigating why we’re in this situation to begin with, why we have these terrible bathrooms in a place we don’t want them.”
CAO Joe Creron said there are two projects for which they’ve already decided to do a post-mortem audit, this project and the museum renovation.
At the last regular council meeting Councillors Condon, Van Minsel and Fielding voted to delay a decision about how to proceed with the splash pad washrooms, in hope that a better solution could be found.
They were outvoted by Mayor Cindy Fortin and Councillors Pam Cunningham, Mike Kent and Pete Coolio, who favoured opening the splash pad and washrooms as soon as possible and dealing with the washroom issue at a later date.
At the special meeting held on Monday, Condon asked council to rescind their decision to move forward with the washroom project, put the washroom up for sale in unused condition, and wait out the upcoming IHA changes.
Once again, Councillors Condon, Van Minsel and Fielding were outvoted by Mayor Fortin and Councillors Cunningham, Coolio and Kent, so for the time being the washroom structure stays.