Castlegar council talks about need for more ambulance services

Council debated ambulance response time and coverage at Monday’s meeting.

Examples of what Castlegar’s new signage will look like. (City of Castlegar agenda)

After a letter to Mayor Chernoff from BC Emergency Health Services referencing a conversation the mayor had with a BCEHS representative at the UBCM convention was received for information at Monday’s council meeting, council entered into a charged discussion on the need for more ambulance services in Castlegar.

Coun. Sue Heaton-Sherstibitoff asked the mayor about the conversation and whether he spoke to BCEHS about the need for more full-time ambulance employees here in Castlegar.

“I don’t think it is right that people who call an ambulance have to wait 90 minutes in Castlegar to get an ambulance that’s routed from Rossland,” she said. “Drivers get here — they don’t even know where our hospital is and that puts our first responders at that patient’s house until the ambulance takes over.”

Mayor Chernoff stated, “That was part of the request — we talked about manpower, manpower allocations and they said they are looking at that presently.”

“Nothing is happening, so we need to do something here,” said Heaton-Sherstibitoff. “We are the ones who are paying for our first responders to go to that call.”

Coun. Bruno Tassone also shared his frustration over the situation.

“This is a very important item for the city,” he said. “The City of Nelson and The City of Trail have seven full-time employees and Castlegar has one. They have full-time 24-hour-emergency services with their hospitals and the City of Castlegar does not. I think there is a real discrepancy.”

Age-friendly grant

Council voted to support an application under the UBCM Age-Friendly Grant Program. If successful, the $25,000 will be used to complete an age-friendly assessment and action plan for the city.

The Castlegar Community Response Network (CRN) will be contracted by the city to carry out the project, however, the city will be responsible for the overall management of the grant and will have direct input into questions for the survey.

Sandi McCreight with the Castlegar Response Network brought the proposal to the community wellness and social services committee. She has worked with other communities in the region on similar projects.

“The city of Castlegar at the end of the day will be the beneficiary of all of the fantastic information that comes forward,” said Coun. Deb McIntosh, chair of the committee that brought forward the motion.

“I have absolute faith in Sandi that she will take this on and do the best possible job,” added McIntosh. “Other communities have dealt with her and have been very happy with the final product … She has a great success rate.”

Once this initial project is complete, an additional $15,000 grant can be applied for to help implement the action plan.

Rail crossing repairs

Council had to make a budget transfer of $160,000 to cover the cost of repairs to the CPR rail crossing at 18th Street. The money was transferred from the land acquisition line item which is expected to have a significant surplus.

CPR notified the city on Oct. 2 that they were expediting repairs to that crossing due to overwhelming complaints from the public and that the city was responsible for all costs.

The city responded by explaining to CPR that budget requests are normally brought before council during annual budget deliberations and then placed in the five-year financial plan.

On Oct. 16, CPR responded with a cost estimate and on Oct. 26 made the repairs.

The city has asked CPR to provide them with a cost estimate and timeline of expected crossing work for the next five years.

CAO Chris Barlow explained that municipalities being responsible for repair costs for secondary rail crossings is common practice.

Signs

Council awarded a contract to Knight Signs for the design and supply of 21 complete and ready-for-installation city entrance and wayfinding signs.

The project will include 12 wayfinding signs, three double-sided illuminated entranceway signs, one single-sided entranceway sign and five Millennium Park marker posts.

The entrance signs will be blue with internally lit raised plastic lettering. The letters will have white fronts and coloured sides.

Wayfinding signage will be colour-coded with directional arrows. The powder coated grey metal structures will have die-cut slots on the front, allowing for colored opaque plastic material with white decalled lettering to be slotted into the front and backlit with LED.

Wayfinding directional and trailhead signage will feature a powder grey metal post. The top third will be constructed of opaque plastic and internally illuminated with white decalled lettering on all four sides.

Civic infrastructure to be highlighted in the signage program includes the downtown core, library, City Hall, RCMP, parks including Kinsmen, Millennium and Zuckerberg Island, Castlegar Health Centre, recreation facilities (Recreation/Aquatic Centre, Pioneer Arena), Visitor Information Centre and the museum. In addition, one installation of southbound wayfinding signage will direct motorists to Selkirk College and the West Kootenay Regional Airport.

The city’s five-year financial plan includes $100,000 in 2017 and $100,00 in 2018 for the first phase of the signage project. The four entrance signs will be commissioned for this year and the remaining signs will be commissioned next year. An increase of $31,809 will be needed to the 2018 budget to cover the $231,809 contract.

Millennium Park improvements

A report from the transportation and civic works committee stated that the city is developing a design for improved washroom facilities at Millennium Park. The new design will be for year-round facilities and will incorporate more washrooms and change rooms.

The city is also looking at options for a large shade canopy near the beach area of the park the canopy will be discussed during the 2018 budget deliberations.

Adult day-sitting bylaw amendment

Council passed the first two readings of a bylaw amendment to allow for adult day sitting services at a Castlegar home. The bylaw will now move to the advisory and planning commission for review and recommendation and a public hearing will be scheduled.

The amendment basically changes the daycare definition and rules from relating to just children to include children and seniors.

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