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qathet Regional District staff outline plans to make accessibility improvements in parks

“It is so important for everyone in our community, not just the disabled. I’ve been hearing from young mothers pushing strollers who can run into similar challenges with uneven surfaces.” ~ Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne
PROJECTS OUTLINED: qathet Regional District’s board of directors will consider improvements to several regional parks, such as Haywire Bay [above, where Dave and Marg Hodgins took their son Michael earlier this year] to increase accessibility.

qathet Regional District (qRD) will consider nearly $28,000 in upgrades to regional parks to improve accessibility.

At the July 14 committee of the whole meeting, directors unanimously carried a motion that the regional board review proposed projects for improving accessibility and recommended that the board direct staff to include the projects in the 2023 preliminary budget plan.

Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne said the list of proposed projects is exactly what directors have been hearing in the community about where the regional district can do better for accessibility.

“It is so important for everyone in our community, not just the disabled,” said Gisborne. “I’ve been hearing from young mothers pushing strollers who can run into similar challenges with uneven surfaces.”

Gisborne said going through the list of projects, it got him thinking about active transportation corridors, such as access to the Yaroshuk trail network and Myrtle Creek bridge.

“Taking a look at the list, it seems predominantly focused on our parks and regional district land,” said Gisborne. “I’m curious about the active transportation corridors that we have partnered with the ministry of transportation on and how those could potentially work into a future list of projects.”

Manager of operational services Patrick Devereaux said it’s not property the regional district owns. He said working on projects with the ministry and other bodies takes longer and the regional district doesn’t have any permits over those lands.

“That being said, if the directors have any suggestions, please email me and I’ll add it to future lists and look at it further down the line,” added Devereaux. “We’ll evaluate projects and the board will have its opportunity to address these in future budget deliberations.”

Electoral Area D director and committee chair Sandy McCormick asked if the items being recommended by Devereaux would be on the capital plan for the board’s consideration.

Devereaux said it would depend on the project. He said all the projects are evaluated separately. The larger projects, such as one proposed for Palm Beach, would definitely be a capital project, he added, while others will be internal operations projects.

“Many of them, where the costs are there for $1,000 or $1,500, that cost would already be in the operating budget,” said Devereaux. “We’re not talking a large amount of money for those projects but the bigger projects will definitely be in the capital plan.”

Electoral Area E director Andrew Fall said he appreciated the approach.

“We have a list of projects,” said Fall. “It’s obviously a living list. There’s going to be items added to it and items will be ticked off. We’ll be able to report on that, which is great.”

Electoral Area C director Clay Brander said he wanted to show his appreciation for Devereaux and his crew.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Brander.

McCormick said it’s something the regional district needs to do.

“If we’re going to be open to the public, we need to be open to all of the public,” she added.

If the regional board provides sanction for the initiative, projects would be undertaken at Diver’s Rock Regional Park, Klah Ah Men Lund Gazebo Regional Park, Craig Regional Park, Haywire Bay Regional Campground, Myrtle Rocks Regional Park, Palm Beach Regional Park and the Canoe Bay beach access. Total costs would be $27,700.

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