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The issue at hand is the accessibility of Kitimat’s City Council Chambers, located on the second floor of the Public Safety building. Up a flight of stairs from the door, the only method for people who have problems with stairs to attend is a stair climber mechanism which leaves much to be desired.
The City Council has been looking for new locations for a while now. However, many of the locations which the city owns and can use for Council Chambers are out of the question for one reason or another.
At the moment, the City is looking at the Riverlodge Activity Room as a potential location. However, at the Council Meeting on Monday, March 19th, Councillor Mary Murphy came up with another solution. The District of Kitimat Sponsors a room at Kitimat Valley Institute.
“So we have seniors and other people with limited abilities that are restricted from attending our regular Council Meetings. At KVI, we have a District of Kitimat Room,” said Murphy. “It is an opportunity to get people to attend meetings and right now, they’re restricted from attending meetings.”
She stated she liked the current room but there was no way to get everyone there to participate. Mayor Joanne Monaghan said there is an option which they are working on. She said they will get further information later in the week. She suggested a tabling motion.
Councillor Feldhoff made the tabling motion. He pointed out they passed a motion to move the meetings to Riverlodge. “Something needs to happen and I think it’s appropriate to wait a few more days, a week, to get this other solution,” said Feldhoff.
Councillor Phil Germuth agreed but stated he had a problem with a Council Meeting at a building the District does not control. “At KVI, with all the potential investment coming here, approximately 20 billion dollars, I would have a bit of concern with the possibility of privacy with our in camera meetings in a building that we don’t have full control over,” said Germuth.
Murphy said she had done some research. She was not advocating for KVI, but the District does have a room in there. She felt it was a good fit. The Building closes at 6:00 so it would only be the City Council in the room after 6. It would cost the Council $6,384 to rent their room for a year because they own it. If they needed a bigger room, they could go for it. She felt they needed a new District building.
She expressed Kitimat Valley Institute was a good choice, although she had looked at others. Monaghan agreed. They did not want to discriminate against anyone. The motion for tabling was carried.
Councillor Mary Murphy is also a safety instructor at Kitimat Valley Institute. Prior to the motion, we asked if she was in Conflict of Interest on this issue. Municipal Manager Ron Poole stated it was up to the individual Councillor to declare conflict.
Murphy did not respond at this time. However, after making her motion, she said: “It doesn’t have to be there, even if we have it at Northwest Community College, I teach at Northwest Community College and I teach for the First Nations and I pretty much teach all over the place so I would be in conflict if I suggested anywhere in town.”