Ongoing discourse about front access to the Trail Memorial Centre (TMC) has council considering changes to the entrance.
Trail Mayor Mike Martin says staff has been directed to collaborate with a local engineering firm to look at possibilities following public safety concerns from residents with mobility challenges.
The TMC’s front area was re-configured during the second phase of revitalizing the city’s main drag but has since been a stumbling block for those with difficulty walking or requiring aids.
“There are continuing complaints about the front access to the TMC for residents with disabilities and we take these comments seriously,” said Martin. “There have not been a lot of complaints but sufficient for us as council to have concerns that we need to try and address what is some difficulties with the access.”
One barrier is handicap and 15-minute parking spaces created near the front of the facility are on a slope, which is proving to be unsuitable drop-offs.
Staff has met with certain members of the public to identify the needs of those visiting the TMC with mobility issues as well as options to address those needs, Robert Baker, deputy director of parks and recreation, wrote in a memo to council.
He identified two groups of people who report challenges to the access, the first being people accessing the building for special events in the Cominco Gym and secondly, those being dropped off by a personal vehicle for regular events such as Smoke Eater hockey games.
Staff met with one person who regularly attends Smokies games with his mother. He requires a drop-off spot to assist her out of the vehicle and into the arena.
Martin asked the city to investigate the possibility of installing a wheelchair lift on one of the facility’s staircases.
“The wheelchair lift option is viewed as being quite complicated and will not be considered while we have the front entrance looked at again,” Martin added. “For drop-off of large groups by buses we have a traffic control plan in place for the inside lane on Victoria Street and this will be used asrequired.”
The city hasn’t received complaints from day-to-day visitors who partake in recreational programs in the multi-purpose room or gym, but Baker acknowledged those activities and bookings may not typically be attended by those with mobility challenges.
The TMC’s 50-foot guard rail was installed to stop people from walking onto the highway after hockey games or large event gatherings. Other changes made two years ago, include the removal of the Victoria Street eastbound left turn lane, thereby closing vehicle access into the civic centre.
Although the traffic pattern change was designed to improve safety and accessibility for all users and age groups of the facility, the pedestrian travel distance to the TMC entrance way was increased and access for drop-off is only available by driving around the building.