If you’re coming down Beach Ave from Princeton Ave or the south entry of Hwy 97, watch your coffee mug because there’s a new speed hump you might not be anticipating.
District staff installed the speed hump on Beach Ave this morning, just in time for the anticipated soft opening of the splash pad this weekend.
The Heritage Park splash pad and pathway, curb/gutter, and new parking was completed last fall, but the opening of the new amenity has been delayed first due to issues with BC Hydro and then concerns with the associated washroom.
Interior Health Authority (IHA) had insisted there be washrooms installed next to the splash pad before it could be permitted to open, despite the fact that there is an existing accessible set of washrooms just across the street.
The washroom arrived last fall but during this year’s budget deliberations council learned that the new facility, which was purchased for approximately $100,000, would require an additional $40,000 investment for stairs and would not be accessible to wheelchair users unless an even more costly ramp were purchased.
On Apr. 19 council decided to keep the washroom so the splash pad could open soon. At that time Councillors Terry Condon, Patrick Van Minsel and Keith Fielding voted to delay a decision about how to proceed with the splash pad washrooms, in hope that a better solution could be found but 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.
Shortly thereafter a special council meeting was called by Councillors Condon and Van Minsel but failed to reverse council’s decision. Coun. Condon called the special meeting to tell his council colleagues that he had 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.
Condon said 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.”
Not long afterwards the municipality issued a press release stating that IHA has agreed to waive the requirement for a new washroom and water fountain for Heritage Park.
The decision followed continued discussions between Peachland’s chief administrative officer and director of operations and IHA, including a site visit to the Heritage Park splash pad location.
The District of Peachland stated it would increase safety at the crosswalk on Beach Ave for access to the existing washrooms. The new speed hump on Beach Ave is expected to slow down vehicles approaching the crosswalk from Hwy 97, now making a trip from Heritage Park to the washroom more safe.
A pedestrian controlled flasher is also on the way and expected to arrive mid-July.
The town was successful in receiving funding from ICBC’s Road Improvement Program that will cover approximately 50 per cent of the flasher system costs.
As for the washroom, it will need to stay put in Heritage Park until fall, as it is connected to the electrical associated with the splash pad. Once the splash pad is closed down for the season in September, staff recommended the washroom be put up for auction.
In his report to council on Tuesday night, director of operations Shawn Grundy noted that while there are other locations around the district that could potentially benefit from this installation, such as Lambly Park, there would be some fairly significant costs involved in servicing the building with sanitary sewer, water and electrical services.
“Instead, staff feels it prudent to attempt sale of the building at this point,” said Grundy.
He said in speaking with the original manufacturer, it was noted that a new building of this design would currently see sale prices of approximately $140,000.
The manufacturer offered a $75,000 buy-back minus the cost of service deactivation and transport, but staff concluded it would be better to place the item on bcauction.ca, a site run by the provincial government used to dispose of surplus assets from all levels of government in B.C.
The town has used this system in the past to dispose of old plow trucks and light vehicles and the website allows a reserve bid to be placed, allowing the municipality to set a minimum bid, said Grundy.
“With the speed humps reducing speeds and bringing more visibility to the crossing, the intention is to open the splash pad in time for the weekend of June 18,” Grundy told council.
The speed hump probably won’t stay forever, though, council was told.
“In the longer term, the temporary speed humps will be removed and not replaced unless the flashing pedestrian lights are insufficient to provide a safe crossing,” said Grundy.
He noted that further future improvements, such as a raised pedestrian crossing, will also be considered as a more permanent solution.
A soft opening of the splash pad is expected to take place this weekend with a “semi grand opening” planned for Canada Day.