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REPORTING · 21st March 2014
Walter McFarlane

There are plans for a development on Stikine Street. These plans were first brought up at the regular meeting of Council on February 17th. At the time, Councillor Mary Murphy noticed there were stairs in the front and in the back. She asked if this is what they were proposing. She was told it was.

The Stikine Street Development came up again at the Regular Meeting of Council on Monday, March 17th. Councillor Corinne Scott made a motion to approve the building.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff wanted to know if the relocation of the playground would take place this year or next year. The best location has been explored and the move should take place in a month.

Councillor Phil Germuth asked about the concern Council had for the buildings to be wheelchair accessible. He wanted to know if this had been discussed with the proponent.

“This was not discussed with this project. The plans indicate this is not feasible for the structure which is proposed,” said City Planner Gwen Sewell.

Councillor Corinne Scott could not understand why it was not standard procedure why any apartment buildings, four-plexes and duplexes were not required to be accessible for everybody. She suggested tabling the motion, discuss the need for accessibility for any buildings built in the community and then try to accommodate it within the structure.

She was told Council could deny the permit.

Councillor Mary Murphy stated she had brought this up the first time and wanted to change it. “I don’t think anybody had an appetite for it so here it is in front of us now. If we want to move some of the changes in our bylaws and building codes, then we need to really do it as quickly as possible instead of having it come in front of us continually and then making changes,” said Murphy.

Councillor Edwin Empinado stated the Committee of Persons with Disabilities passed a motion for new buildings and public buildings to be accessible. He said there should be some units which are accessible.

Sewell argued there had to be a variety of options in Kitimat. Not every unit had to be accessible provided there were units which were accessible in the community and there are accessible units in the community.

“It’s up to the developer to decide what the specifics of a project will be and it’s up to Council to decide whether or not they want to approve that project as presented, with or without some minor variances which are outlined in the report or to deny the permit which is again, an option which is available to you tonight,” said Sewell.

Scott added: “Or table.”

Feldhoff said because there were developments in town which offered accessibility and this developer was going to meet the need of rental units in Kitimat. The developer has put forward a proposal which follows the rules and it would be unfair for Council to hold it up so they can change the rules.

Empinado said the proponent was meeting the needs of the town. He asked if some of the ground floor units could be changed. Sewell replied the design does not offer accessibility and there is no way to change the design.

“Its ground oriented, its family friendly, but it’s not accessible,” said Sewell.

Goffinet stated due to the limited space the developer was worked with, accessibility should be at other sites, but not this one. Murphy agreed it was too late to change the rules. She said Council should have been proactive. She added there were coming proposals which were wheelchair accessible.

Empinado asked if the first floor cannot be wheel chair accessible. He was told it was by-level and there were stairs down.

Scott stated she appreciated the feedback. She had not raised her concerns about accessibly at the past meeting because she had been told these were not the final plans. However, these were planned to be a bi-level six-plex.

She concluded the Council needs to pass a motion so everything is accessible in the future. The motion was called and carried.