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REPORTING · 22nd June 2011
Walter McFarlane
Clips of North Of 49’s recent foray into Kitimat are now on Youtube. Two significant clips featuring Sally Rigoni and Margaret Sanou, head of the Retire in Kitimat Taskforce were posted in the past week focusing on what benefits the community offers retirees as well as recreation activities available in Kitimat.

The clips can be found:

here

and

here
We can do it
Comment by Margaret Sanou on 26th June 2011
Linda, you are correct. We do need to make improvements to our infastructure - particularly our sidewalks, curbs and handicapped parking stalls - to make life easier for people of all ages who have mobility problems. The members of the Retire in Kitimat task force are aware of this and have begun working towards the implementation of improvements.

One of our task force members, Counsellor Corinne Scott, has made this a priority in her role as a municipal counsellor. Thanks to her efforts, Kitimat once again has a Commission for Persons with Disablities. that is separate from the Recreation Commission. She is the council's representative on the commission and I'm sure she would be happy to hear your concerns. A few years ago, Measure Up Kitimat did an assessment of our community and compiled a list of things we can do to improve accessibilty in Kitimat for people with mobility problems. The Commission for Persons with Disabilities will be urging our municipal government to implement the necessary improvements.

In partnership with the Snowflake Seniors Centre and the Kitimat Retired Teachers Association, the Retire in Kitimat Task Force helped to organize a workshop on "Developing Age Friendly Communities". The well attended workshop, presented by a facilitator from COSCO (The Council of Senior Citizens Organizations of B.C.), was held on April 27 at the seniors centre. Many of the attendees expressed an interest in forming a group to work on making Kitimat an even better place for retirees to live. Liza Frazer, the seniors centre programmer, will be following this up in the fall. Anyone who is interested is welcome to join the group. Attendance at the workshop is not a prerequisite.

The good news is that the District has already begun to replace our cracked sidewalks. Many sidewalks were replaced in the Kildala Neighbourhood in the summer of 2o10. I believe that some were replaced in the Nechako Neighbourhood in 2009 and that the District has a plan in place to replace more sidewalks each year.

While there are improvements needed, Kitimat already has some features in place to make life easier and more enjoyable for people with mobility problems. The aquatic centre has several - a wheelchair friendly change room, ramp access to the shallow pool and a special wheelchair designed for use in pools. We also have a special fishing platform on the river near the fish hatchery for fishers who use a wheelchair or scooter. The hospital and mall both have an elevator. The golf course clubhouse, hospital, Riverlodge, the Seniors Centre and a number of other buildings have ramps. Both the arena and MET have wheelchair sections to enable those with mobilty problems to attend hockey games, plays and concerts. We also have Handi-dart service.

Thank you, Linda, for your comments. We do have a number of residents with mobility problems. Any of us, who are fully mobile now, may find ourselves faced with mobilty problems in the future. Public awareness of the issues related to lack of mobilty is essential if we are to make Kitimat a truly wheelchair and age friendly community.
But for one thing
Comment by Linda on 23rd June 2011
As a person whose mobility has significantly decreased over the last few years, I sometimes use a power chair to get out in the fresh air, walk the dogs and just enjoy Kitimat.
Imagine my suprise when I discovered that Kitimat, promoted as a great place to retire, is not that great for a person in a wheelchair or scooter. A lot of the curbs are too steep and narrow. Ive been stuck a couple of times. The worst is the condition of the paths. Many are so badly cracked and pitted, its bone jarring and very painful to travel them. Everytime my chair whams into one, the pain makes me want to scream.
Many retirees are on scooters and in wheelchairs permanently, and would not find the condition of our sidewalks very retiree friendly at all.
All in all Kitimat is a great place for anyone to live, we have the best people, beautiful scenery, great resources, everything a person could want except decent sidewalks.