Downtown Smithers. Access Smithers (AS), an organization focused on improving accessibility and inclusivity within the town, is requesting the Town conduct an Accessible Parking Assessment. At their Nov. 26 meeting council voted unanimously to refer the request to staff for further consideration. (File photo)

Council refers accessible parking assessment request to staff

Access Smithers recently sent council a letter expressing concerns over accessible parking in town

An advocacy organization is parking its concerns about accessible spaces in Smithers on council’s doorstep.

Council recently received a letter from Access Smithers (AS) — an organization focused on improving accessibility and inclusivity within Smithers — requesting the Town conduct an accessible parking assessment.

READ MORE: Access Smithers shares its community improvements

At their Nov. 26 meeting council voted unanimously to refer the request to staff for further consideration.

The request comes after AS and four contractors put together the Smithers Age Friendly Assessment & Action Plan in 2016.

AS is asking the assessment include things like mapping of all current parking and identifying areas that lack accessible spaces, with reccomendations for improvement.

“As a committee we have concerns about the efficiency, safety and number of accessible parking spots, and agree that it would be prudent and beneficial for the Town to support an accessible parking assessment to be conducted.”

The process would also include assessing van-accessible designated parking and signage, with AS noting many challenges currently associated with these spaces.

“Although there is a perception of safe accessible parking in our town, location of some of the designated spots [are] not appropriate, placing consumers who use them at risk to disembark from vehicles with need to travel to adjacent curb cuts to allow sidewalk access,” the letter continues, noting at times people are forced to travel behind parked vehicles on the street to reach their destination.

To the above points, the letter is also asking council to consider changing the location of certain spots to remove potential hazards.

READ MORE: A place to sit

“Some spots may need to be changed to remove hazards and improve functionality. We ask that you consider our request in your upcoming discussions and 2020 budget allocations.”

During the meeting director of development services Mark Allen noted one of the big challenges for the Town is where they can place accessible parking spots.

“That’s something we can bring back [to council] along with what the cost is per accessible parking space and then that can be referred to budget,” he said.

“There are obviously other locations where they could be installed but we … cannot place accessible parking spaces on parallel parking spaces only angled or perpendicular.”

Currently most parking lots in the town have between two and four accessible spaces.

Allen also said, in response to a question from Coun. Frank Wray about consultant costs, that the assessment would have to be outsourced.

“I don’t think we could have it ready in time for for the 2020 budget [but] I’m confident we could for, say, the 2021 budget.”

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