REPORTING · 29th July 2014
Local resident Mary Monteiro was at Council on Monday, July 28th to address the lack of accessible housing in Kitimat. She thanked Council for accepting her to speak to them.
“I have recently sold my home on Wohler Street and am now living in one of the only available elevator lift homes. That is now on 2209 Banyay [Avenue], and unfortunately, as much as we try and facilitate the aging and the handicapped, Kitimat is failing this community very, very much. My question to you is, in what regard are we going to be facilitating our community because Kitimat is aging and we have been very proud of attempting to facilitate the aging, but we have failed miserably to attempt to facilitate the handicapped and the aging,” said Monteiro.
She said she was on a waiting list for 2 years to get into an apartment with an elevator. However, she found it was not handicapped accessible. It does not have the wider doors or the showers which are designed for people with disabilities.
Monteiro has been told it will be a number of years before Northern Health representatives will be able to facilitate the North to try and make housing better.
Councillor Mario Feldhoff expressed Council is working on a few fronts.
“There is a development in Strawberry Meadows that to some degree is accessible. We have a recent proposal put forward last week by Mr. Kerkhoff for an area in the Kildala area where a part of that plan includes design, as I recall, two apartment buildings with a servicing elevator for 100 units. I don’t know if it’s designed as such with the wider doors. […] Lastly, the [Kingfisher development next to] Margetts street, 5 of the units will have the master bedroom and everything on the ground floor,” said Feldhoff. “It’s not the perfect solution, but it’s a partial response to the issues you’ve raised and housing remains a concern for me.”
Monteiro stated she spoke to Jack Oviatt concerning the Strawberry Meadows Development and the minimum amount of money to own the condominiums is $300,000.
“For a pensioner or a person on LTD, I’m afraid that is out of the question. Having to place $300,000 on a mortgage, right away, that’s astronomical. When you think of someone on LTD, they need to have walkers, electric wheelchairs, trips to Vancouver to see a neurologist, etc… and medication. My medication, and I’m speaking personally, is extremely expensive so I can only imagine someone else who’s on LTD or social assistance. It’s out of the question to try and make their life easier,” said Monteiro.
She expressed she was speaking for a lot of people.
“And we get to the point where my quality of life, I do not have a quality of life. I do not wish to live in my community, and for the first time in over 30 years of marriage, my husband actually stated: ‘I think it’s time to look elsewhere, because this is a community that I don’t believe will be in our best interests.’ I was stunned, I was shocked that he made that comment but that’s what Kitimat is starting to become, it’s for the rich and famous,” said Monteiro.
Councillor Mary Murphy thanked her for coming to Council and reminded her there is an age friendly committee which works on this issue. Murphy stated she has worked on the committee for three years. Murphy explained the government came up to talk with seniors with disabilities about funding they can access. Only three people showed up to talk to the representative who was in town for 8 hours. Murphy stated the government will return and they will publicize it more and improve accessibility issues, identify them and make them better.
She said Oviatt’s work was beautiful and when it was brought to Council, it was valued at $300,000. She was shocked to hear the price had not gone up on them. “I know it’s expensive for some people but others might want to sell their homes and move into something like that,” said Murphy.
“It’s a wonderful piece of land and wonderful people but it would be wonderful to have something very similar to what he’s offering but at a much lower price,” said Monteiro.
Monteiro thanked them for listening and asked the Council to keep it in mind. She stated she would hate to have other people feel like they are feeling, the desire to leave Kitimat because they are in need of housing for people who are elderly or disabled.
She said the developers should be working with the handicapped people to make sure the housing they build is accessible. Are the showers built right, the countertops lower? “They need to work with a handicapped person so they can learn how to make these facilities a lot more accessible,” said Monteiro.
Administration told Council the developers are familiar with building accessible units. 23 of the proposed units for Kitimat will be accessible, 5 on Kingfisher, 8 on Konigus and 8 on Baxter.
Councillor Edwin Empinado stated the Council has nine strategies which were brought to the Provincial Government. One of them is affordable housing. It has been the concern which Council has brought to the Provincial Government. He added Council does have plans for affordable housing in the form of secondary suites.
“As frustrated as you are, we are to, but we’re trying our best to do that right,” said Empinado.
Monteiro stated there is not enough information getting to the public to make them aware of what Council is doing. She suggested getting it out to them.
“I am getting the input from many others that it’s time to go, it’s time to abandon Kitimat and the years that I have put in here, I’m giving up. It’s unfortunate that I don’t wish it to be this way but when it gets to the point where my significant other has given up and I’ve given up and those around me are starting to give up, it’s sad, and I don’t wish it to be your fault or the next door neighbours fault. I love for us to work as a community, as a group and have wonderful things happening,” said Monteiro.
She expressed that the government is trying to make a change, it is just too slow and too uninformative. The public does not know what is happening. Monaghan thanked her for presenting.
Empinado told her the words affordability and accessibility come up in the discussions on housing developments. There were no further questions so Monteiro returned to her seat.
Comment by Peter meger on 18th November 2014
I gave up on kitimat a long time ago. It was one of the best moves I 've done.
Too little too late....no vision
Comment by CEM on 29th August 2014
Twenty years ago I did a thesis paper on the lack of housing for the elderly. I questioned the District and nothing was done except for a new hospital which apparently the old hospital wasn't earthquake proof....yet when it was blasted down it was found to be a very strong building. Too bad it wasn't kept for the elderly. They had the best view in town. Lack of vision and more concerned about ripping up pavement and paving streets and parking lots that Terracites would be quite happy if their streets were as good. Planting more and more trees and flowers when the District should cutting down trees so we can see the most beautiful along the coast.
woulda, shoulda coulda
Comment by kitimat first on 2nd August 2014
sounds like ms monteiro wants to make on 2014 housing prices in Kitimat, but wants to buy at 1980 prices. can you please show me how I can do that for Kelowna please ! sorry for your disability but don't blame Kitimat.
not entirely true
Comment by bill on 30th July 2014
oviatt's new homes are in the 400's spoke to them the other day, not sure what she is thinking.
Older bungalows make great accessible homes, build a ramp and put in lower cabinets. hallways are already 3ft wide
Comment by mmurphy on 29th July 2014
If I sold my 50 year old home for over 300$ market value, I would not be criticizing oviatts for selling brand new specialty homes...easy access wider halls, senior friendly, larger washrooms and top of the line everything for 300$. I am surprised that this figure was quoted. I would expect when the new smaller townhouses on baxter are all sold started at 297$ that these new units would be priced higher