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REPORTING · 18th December 2015
Walter McFarlane
Kitimat Council saw a special presentation from several Cable Car Residents on the creation of a playground in the Cable Car Neighbourhood on Monday, December 14th. Lani Gibson got up with her children to address Council. There were other Cable Car residents sitting in the gallery.

“We feel strongly that our children should have the same opportunity as the children who live in Kitimat proper to have a park in their neighbourhood. We recognize that the cost of a park in that neighbourhood may be a little bit more in Cable Car then in town, but the reason we strongly urge Council to allocate funds for the 2016 budget process and not delay until 2017 as is suggested in the report,” said Gibson.

They suggested Council provide funds to provide and clear crown land in 2016 and the rest of the funds be put aside for 2017 to build the park.

Gibson told Council Cable Car was not supposed to have a park when it was conceived due to the lot size of the properties. However, she stressed a park would be a good place for residents to gather and make social connections with their neighbours and for children to play with other children.

She expressed older children do not want to tag along with their parents or have play dates arranged for them. They cannot go to a park without first getting into a car. Cable Car also does not give children an opportunity to make a friend who they can hang out with after school.

Three locations were given in the report to Council. The first was next to a gully on Coho. The second was at the paved area at the end of Grayling, near the trail to the community fair grounds. The third was at the end of Chinook, near the river bank. While it was implied in the report to Council all three of these locations would be a long distance for families in Cable Car to walk, Gibson pointed out people walk the perimeter of the subdivision and older children can ride their bikes there.

She said they were not concerned about animals in Cable Car, because parents teach their children about wildlife safety no matter where in Kitimat they live. However, a 30 metre buffer zone was proposed around the park to give them sight lines to wildlife.

Gibson expressed the Cable Car residents are in agreement about the first location not being ideal. While it is the only property on District land, it is too close to a stream and private properties. In addition, one of the owners did not wish it to be there.

She suggested Council approach the Province about purchasing or leasing lot two or three and then receiving further input from the residents of Cable Car. She expressed the parents were willing to work with Council to make certain the park succeeded.

“In summary, we are asking you to support us, we want to enhance our social fabric of our neighbourhood and we’re counting on your support,” said Gibson.

Councillor Claire Rattee asked if there was a general consensus between options 2 and 3. The reply from Gibson was they have not formed an opinion on either location because they wanted an idea of what the costs would be to acquire and clear the area.

Rattee asked if there was any opposition to having a park in Cable Car. Gibson said there was opposition to teens using these locations as places to party. The areas they chose would be at the end of existing roads to prevent parties from taking place there. She added that teens also need places which they can go.

“Cable Car actually has a lot of young families compared to when I first moved out there ten years ago. It’s just been an explosion of young people wanting a certain lifestyle for their kids and as I said, we need to be able to connect with each other and build that community,” said Gibson.

Councillor Edwin Empinado thanked everyone for coming and told them they did inquire about this a year ago. Councillor Rob Goffinet asked what they thought about carving out a spot north of Rainbow to place some parkland.

Council was told by Martin Gould, head of the recreational services, there is a right of access on the street but they eliminated it as an option because they would have to bring in a group to clear the land and prepare it. The two recommended locations would have to be cleared but the workers would not have to work around and behind people’s homes.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff moved a motion to refer the playground to the 2016 budget, and for geographic option two, to be considered by staff. He expressed location three could prevent them from expanding Cable Car and option two was closer to a greater number of homes.

Goffinet wanted to hear from the parents where they want the playground. He offered an amendment, which was considered friendly, to include option three to their list of places to look. Council was told they would have to approach the crown first and find out if they were interested in selling or leasing.

Feldhoff expressed the staff would have to communicate with the crown right away, prior to the 2016 budget. The motion was called and carried.