Scout Island Nature Centre is one of five city-owned buildings that could use accessibility improvements identified in a report from the Rick Hansen Foundation. Angie Mindus file photo

Williams Lake aiming for better accessibility with several city-owned buildings

The move comes after an inspection report by the Rick Hansen Foundation

Williams Lake city council hopes to see some of the city’s buildings reach a gold standard for accessibility as identified by the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF).

Last spring the RHF offered the lakecity an inspection of five city buildings to evaluate them in terms of vehicular access, entrances, interior accessibility and emergency systems from the perspective of mobility, vision and hearing impairments.

During an in-camera meeting held on Dec. 18, 2018 council and staff reviewed a report on the inspection of the Tourism Discovery Centre (TDC), City Hall, Central Cariboo Arts Centre, Scout Island Nature Centre and the Williams Lake Aiport Terminal.

The report was made public during the regular council meeting Tuesday, Feb. 12.

To be certified a building has to receive a score above 60 per cent, which all buildings did except for the Scout Island Nature Centre, which received 56 per cent. Gold certification requires an 80 per cent or higher score, which none of the buildings achieved.

The TDC got the highest at 74 per cent, the airport scored 69 per cent, city hall got 66 per cent and the Central Cariboo Arts Centre received 64 per cent.

Upon viewing the report, city council expressed interest in an action plan to have all facilities brought to the certified gold level.

Read more: Making Williams Lake rural accessibility capital of B.C. still a dream

In his report to city council, director of municipal services Gary Muraca noted that buildings owned by the City are starting to see their age.

“Operating expenses are on the rise with repairs to HVAC, structures, roofs, floors, etc. Current operating budget amounts struggle to fund the repairs required to operate the buildings (ex. Scout Island supply budget $400),” Muraca stated.

“Staff will have issues trying to balance these repairs with the accessibility upgrades at current budget levels.”

Muraca said staff believe many of the improvements provided in the report can initially be completed with an increase to existing operational budgets of $5,000 per year for a five-year period, with the first priority being to do work on the Scout Island Nature Centre.

“We have a number in the capital budget of $12,000 or $15,000 to redo the deck at the Scout Island Nature Centre,” Muraca told council.

“As the place-holder, Scout Island Nature Centre is in the process right now of trying to secure a grant for that, which will probably be very successful. That will be on top of our $5,000.”

Muraca said Scout Island Nature Centre had wanted to apply earlier for a grant, but he encouraged them to wait until the Rick Hansen Foundation inspection report was completed because he felt it would give them a better opportunity to be eligible.

Coun. Scott Nelson said there are “a lot of minor things that need to be done,” but council wants to make sure as the hometown of Rick Hansen, Williams Lake will be able to do some additional work to achieve the gold certification.

Council referred the $5,000 a year for a period of five years to the 2019 budget process for consideration.

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