McNeill seeks accessibility upgrades to Old School

PORT McNEILL-Council agrees on funding application to provide paved handicap parking, expanded landing at popular facility

PORT McNEILL—Council last week approved an application for a federal accessibility fund that could lead to improved access to the Old School for wheelchair-bound users.

The motion was presented during council’s regular meeting Oct. 1 by coun. Gaby Wickstrom, who interviewed a number of citizens about the greatest accessibility needs facing both residents and visitors to Port McNeill.

“Everyone I talked to that had accessibility issues uses this facility,” said Wickstrom, whose motion requests an application to fund a redesign of the entrance to the Old School with improvements to include a paved handicapped parking spot, a paved sidewalk from the parking spot to the base of the existing wheelchair ramp, and an enlargement of the landing at the front door. The improvements could possibly included an automated door.

The project was one of two recommended by Wickstrom, who also identified the need for a wheelchair-accessible public washroom at or near the waterfront. The downside to that project was a substantially higher cost, up to $50,000, of which the Town will need to pay 25 per cent.

Coun. Chris Sharpe asked if the two projects could be rolled together into a single funding request, but Wickstrom noted the town has just come through some major projects, including replacement of its water line system, and the current fiscal year’s budget is particularly tight.

“If this (Accessibility Fund) is extended to 2013, we could get a really good proposal together,” she said.

Coun. Shirley Ackland came down in favour of the Old School upgrades as a needed, yet affordable, project.

“We have seniors using that facility, and the youth, and there are exercise classes,” Ackland said. “I think that would be the best bang for our buck, if we were to do anything.”

The motion was approved unanimously.

 

Arena lease OK’d

Council unanimously approved a five-year lease for the Regional District of Mount Waddington to continue operating Chilton Regional Arena on a town lot.

The motion was approved without discussion after being given first, second and third readings during council’s previous meeting in September.

The lease, for a token fee of $1, continues a series of such leases that have allowed the RD to maintain and operated the arena, which was originally constructed in Port McNeill in 1977.

 

Tax bylaw advances

Council approved first, second and third readings on Bylaw 639, which would approve exemptions on property taxes for six churches and several other properties run for non-profit service.

Among the properties considered for exemption under the bylaw, which could receive final approval at next Monday’s council meeting, are Broughton Curling Club, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 281, the Guide/Scout Hall, Port McNeill Lion’s Club, the North Island Community Service Society Thrift Shop and Broughton Strait Campground.