City council taking steps toward accessibility

Set of portable stairs for Al Anderson pool added to budget

  • Mar. 4, 2013 7:00 p.m.

A pair of motions to improve safety and accessibility at City of Langley public facilities met with mixed results on Feb. 18.

As council prepared to give its 2013 financial plan third reading, Councillor Dave Hall tabled two motions to have items added to this year’s budget.

First on Hall’s shopping list was a portable set of stairs for Al Anderson Memorial swimming pool — similar to those used at W.C. Blair pool in Murrayville.

The steps come at an estimated cost of  $5,100, but Hall said the money would be well spent to ensure that more residents have unfettered access to the public pool.

Not everyone at the table liked Hall’s timing.

Councillor Gayle Martin made an unsuccessful bid to postpone the discussion, before saying that she would not support the motion.

“We met for 10-plus hours on the budget and this was not brought up until Councillor Hall saw it at Blair pool and thought it was a good idea,” she said.

“Every single council person at the table could see something they like . . . by the end of motions by seven people … who knows how much (it could add up to), she said.

Even if it’s a small amount, Martin said, “it’s not the time to do it.”

“Waiting another year (until the next budget) means having another pool season without it,” argued Hall.

“It certainly is an amenity the pool needs, sooner rather than later. It’s a barrier to people at the pool if you don’t have (stairs).”

Councillor Rosemary Wallace, who has mobility issues, said she would prefer to use a set of stairs than a lift.

And she defended Hall’s right to make the motion at third reading.

“I don’t see a problem, as an elected official, to bring up items you think are important,” said Wallace.

Councillor Jack Arnold asked staff for their opinion on whether both stairs and an automated lift — which the pool currently has — are necessary.

“Stairs may be more respectful. Others couldn’t use them and have to use the lift,” replied the City’s recreation director, Kim Hilton.

The steps can be removed anytime people are swimming lengths, she added.

“The lift stays in storage most of the time because it is awkward,” said Hall.

“It’s so cumbersome, that often (staff) will pick the person up and put them in the pool,” he added.

That, he said, presents a danger for both the staff member and the client.

Hall’s motion was carried, with Martin opposed.

The second item on Hall’s list was met with slightly less enthusiam, however, as a bid to have the City spend $9,500 on AEDs (automatic external defibrillators) for several public facilities, including Al Anderson pool and the Timms Centre, was deferred. That figure also included $500 for training staff to use the equipment.

Following a lengthy discussion about the costs and liability issues, council opted not to make a decision on AEDs. Instead, staff will have the City’s safety committee investigate and report back in September, said Hilton.

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