With construction season looming and equipment needing to be ordered, City council was asked Tuesday to give early approval to several items that otherwise would have waited for the budget process to end.
City utilities director Tracy Kyle said the capital improvements put forward made up 47 per cent of the capital improvement budget.
Councillors took advantage of the fact there weren’t a lot of items on the afternoon agenda to get more details about the capital requests.
One, however, felt staff knew best.
Coun. Pat Wallace said after 25 years of dealing with such lists, she’s never seen anything brought up afterward that wasn’t needed.
“In fairness, I think the majority of us are not in a position except to rely on staff that this is needed and the order must go in because of time for delivery,” she said.
Councillors Nancy Bepple and Marg Spina focussed in on one project they felt was under funded: $25,000 for gender-neutral washrooms in public areas.
City parks, culture and recreation director Byron McCorkell said the RCMP have raised security concerns about spaces where both genders can enter a room with a lock. While there are family rooms at the Tournament Capital Centre, there are also staff and cameras there for security.
That’s not the case with a building in Riverside Park, however, he said.
“This is a building that's alone. People can hide in there and cause a problem,” he said.
The City has been working on adding gender-neutral washrooms to its facilities and is about 70 per cent done.
Bepple asked for a report from the RCMP elaborating further on security concerns with the washrooms but also looking at how other communities handle them.
Coun. Donovan Cavers was not happy with $47,000 slated each year to go toward repairs and maintenance of building locks.
He put forward a motion to lower that to $30,000, but no one seconded it.
Mayor Peter Milobar pointed out that most of the items on the list involve roads, drainage and tools.
“This is stuff that's going to have to get done. This is strictly year-after-year maintenance,” he said.
Coun. Ken Christian said the list showed that maintaining the City’s infrastructure can’t be done within the budget cycle.
“This list is highest-priority items needed to maintain the continuity of City operations. And they're projects with urgency for continued good government of the City.”
Council unanimously approved the list, which included big-ticket items like extending First Avenue to join up with Lorne Street, the Highland Drive widening and replacing an outdated fire engine.