DIDSBURY - Council has approved a plan to have the ramp at the Didsbury Neighbourhood Place office entrance upgraded to allow wheelchair and other mobility aide users obstacle-free access to the facility.
The move came by way of motion at the March 14 council meeting, held in person and on YouTube.
Although the DNP entrance is intended to be barrier-free, its current condition does not eliminate obstacles, chief administrative officer Ethan Gorner said in a briefing note to council.
“The existing ramp is too small in width (3.7 feet) and there is insufficient space for a wheelchair user to comfortably maneuver through the area,” he said. “Additionally, there is no accessible push button to open the door, so users need to be able to manually open the door.
“Wheelchair users are often required to use the town office entrance and then navigate through the building to get to Didsbury Neighbourhood Place.”
The town had applied through the federal Enabling Accessibility Fund grant program to upgrade the existing ramp, structural framing and guardrails, as well as to install a barrier-free door push button.
The total cost of the project will be $26,924, with 83 per cent ($22,437) covered by the grant and the town covering the remaining $4,487.
Coun. Ethan Williams said, “I think this is a great idea and it is making the building more accessible for everyone.”
The town’s portion will be funded from the building’s budget for repairs and maintenance and will accommodated in the current draft of the operating budget, council heard.
Leak detection equipment purchase OK'd
In other news from the March 14 council meeting, council approved the purchase of water leak detection equipment to help with the search for leaks in town.
In December, administration updated council on techniques used to detect water leaks, with council advised that acoustic techniques are an important component of a water loss reduction program and that administration would like to expand the program of invasive investigation.
“Recently administration was advised of a piece of acoustical equipment that has been used successfully in a neighbouring community,” said Gorner. “The Fuji Digital Noise Reduction Water Leak Detector DNR-18 is the newest detector engineered to reduce traffic noise and other impedances such as footsteps, power distribution hum, and physical vibrations.
“Removing background noise is critical to hearing what is happening to the water distribution system.”
Council approved the $6,450 machine purchase, with the funds coming from the water department operating budget.
Updated parks and sportsfields rates approved
Meanwhile, council also approved updates to parks and sports field seasonal rates for adults and youth.
Although the recreation rates bylaw was approved at an earlier meeting, the rates for parks and sports fields were not included pending consideration by the strategic planning committee.
The commission came back with proposed new rates of $240 per team per season for adults in 2023 and $275 per team per season in 2024, up from the current rate of $200 per team.
The proposed youth rate was $165 per team per season in 2023 and $200 per team per season for 2024.
The committee also proposed a second option of having the rates for youth and adults increase to the higher rates immediately.
At the suggestion of mayor Rhonda Hunter, council voted to set the youth rate at $165 this year and $200 next year, and the adult rate at $275 starting in 2023.
“I think the adult rate should go up right now and youth should be staggered,” said Hunter.
All council members attended the March 14 council meeting.