Council has taken another step along the path to resurrecting the Commission for Persons with Disabilities (CPD) – but not with unanimous support.
The commission was terminated last summer because of difficulties in finding volunteers to sit on it and therefore meeting the quorum requirement to hold meetings.
Its responsibilities were rolled into those of the Recreation Advisory Commission.
Among the presentations at the beginning of last Monday’s meeting was one from Mary Monteiro, making a pitch supporting the idea.
Saying she understood council was to give second and possibly third readings of the bylaw that night to bring back the CPD, Monteiro added, “I believe that persons who are affected by accessibility issues should have the opportunity to participate in advising council of their requirements.”
(Every bylaw has to be given three readings prior to final adoption.)
While acknowledging the city had made progress on accessibility for all residents, Monteiro said “much more needs to be done”.
She also suggested that money should be included in the budget every year to pay for continued improved access “and ensuring that all the residents can enjoy the benefits of living in Kitimat with ease.”
Monteiro then turned her attention to handicapped parking, pointing out that the stalls around town that are currently designated handicapped are simply not big enough, for example, where wheelchairs are involved.
“What we have now are regular stalls painted blue.”
She also presented council with a copy of the regulations on required widths for handicapped stalls.
When it came time to give those readings to the by-law, council had first to deal with councillor Corrine Scott’s amendment to the bylaw as presented at first reading.
Where the original bylaw had required seven members for the commission, she suggested five, arguing that it had been difficult in the past to recruit members for city commissions and, given the disabled were a relatively small portion of the population of Kitimat, the smaller membership of the commission “would not adversely affect the effectiveness of the group.”
That in turn meant reducing the quorum for CPD meetings from five to three.
And she wanted to add a requirement that the commission meet at least once a year.
Councillor Mario Feldhoff said Scott’s point about quorum was an important one, noting the Advisory Planning Commission had recently been struggling to meet its quorum of four.
Colleague Randy Halyk said he was concerned not enough people were interested in serving on a disabled commission to make it work. And argued that the recreation advisory was already doing a good job in that area.
He also expressed frustration that council had made the decision to drop the disabled commission only last year and was now reversing.
Scott said she wasn’t saying anything against the recreation advisory but noted its meetings were in the evening and the disabled were not able to attend – a reference to the lack of Handi-Dart service at that time of night.
When Scott’s amendment was put to the vote, only Halyk voted against.
That took council to the next vote, second reading of the bylaw as amended.
Feldhoff was opposed, saying that while he agreed it was important to meet the needs of the disabled, the recreation advisory hadn’t been given enough time to do that.
Councillor Rob Goffinet pointed out that if council passed second and third readings that night, there was still two weeks before it would go to final adoption and that allowed time for people to make their views known on the issue.
No-one having raised their hands in opposition, second reading passed unanimously.
At third reading Halyk, saying “we have wasted a lot of time here”, voted against as did Feldhoff.