The accessibility ramp at the Valemount Community Hall.
The accessibility ramp at the Valemount Community Hall.

By: Korie Marshall

Valemount will receive $25,000 to replace the existing ramp and staircase and install an automatic door opener at the Community Hall, announced Member of Parliament Cathy McLeod last week.

The funding from the New Horizons for Seniors Program will allow seniors safe access yoga, art and quilting programs in the hall as well as public and private events.

The Village has been looking for a way to make the existing ramp and stairway safer, since an accident in May 2013. The late Bob Beeson, then 98, had just arrived at a family birthday party and driven his scooter to the top of the ramp. While trying to negotiate the partially-open door, his wheel slipped off the landing. Dorothy Wakelin was standing nearby, and tried to stop the scooter from falling. Pregnant at the time, Wakelin was concerned she’d injure herself and her child, so let go of the scooter, but lost her balance and also fell down the stairs. Both Wakelin and Beeson sustained some injuries and were treated in hospital, but thankfully nothing serious, though it caused Wakelin a lot of stress, which can be detrimental to an unborn child.

“We are acting to ensure that seniors maintain a good quality of life and continue to be active members of our community,” said McLeod, MP for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo.

“There are quite a few outspoken seniors in Valemount who are not too shy to advise our senior politicians about the needs in our area,” said Mayor Jeannette Townsend. “I am grateful to our MP, Cathy McLeod, for responding so promptly and efficiently to the needs of our special citizens in Valemount.”

No word yet from Village staff on exactly how the entry will be addressed, or whether the $25,000 will cover the full cost.