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Summerside council fields concerns about need for handrails at Credit Union Place

Summerside Councillors Bruce MacDougall, left, and Justin Doiron arrive at City Hall Feb. 5 for council committee meetings.
Summerside councillors Bruce MacDougall, left, and Justin Doiron arrive at City Hall on Feb. 5 for council committee meetings. - Alison Jenkins
SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. —

Credit Union Place needs more handrails, according to some Summerside residents.

The Eastlink Arena in the city's multi-purpose facility doesn’t have any railings along the stairs or in the seating sections.

Coun. Cory Snow, chair of the community services committee, brought the handrail request to council's committe meetings Tuesday, Feb. 5.

While a lot of planning and design went into accessibility, a clear view for spectators was a second priority , said the facility's general manager J.P. Desrosiers.

“If you’re paying $125 for a concert ticket, or you’re there to see an NHL game or a Caps game or to watch your relatives play hockey, the goal is to not be hindered by any sightlines,” said Desrosiers.

Credit Union Place has 305 accessible seats around the top row of the arena, as well as 14 wheelchair-accessible seats and two companion seats — around 10 per cent of the total seating.

Additionally, ushers are at events to help people, said Desrosiers.

“Our goal as an operations staff is to have the facility accessible to all patrons at all times.”

J.P. Desrosiers, general manager of Credit Union Place, speaks to Summerside city council on the issue of handrails at the arena Feb. 5.
J.P. Desrosiers, general manager of Credit Union Place, speaks to Summerside city council on the issue of handrails at the arena Feb. 5.

Coun. Justin Doiron suggested installing handrails in sections A and Z near the main entrance. Several councillors agreed it would be helpful and wouldn’t impact sightlines for most spectators.

“It’s making a start,” said Barb Ramsay.

The concerns she's heard in the community were about safety.

“Mothers with babies were trying to get down there and they’ve got an armload… not necessarily a person with mobility issues, but just an older person who doesn’t feel secure enough to go down stairs.”

Desrosiers’ chief concern is for people who need the railing choosing to access seats in the middle of the stands, then getting into difficulty once they step away from the railing to take their seat in the middle of a row.

“It does concern me a bit, because as soon as we install railings we are inviting patrons to enter sections of the arena and they’ll have to leave the railing," he said. 

“Falling into the seats is not nearly as bad as falling the other way, down a series of steps, but I have concerns about that.”

Desrosiers also questions, in the case of an emergency, whether those patrons will have a hard time leaving their seats to exit the building.

Still, council decided to look further into the possibility of installing the handrails.

It would mean consulting with the building’s engineers to determine any in-floor heat structures or other infrastructures might be in the way of the railing add-on, said Desrosiers.

Snow requested Desrosiers price out railings for sections A and Z, as well as investigate any in-floor obstacles for the next committee meeting.

Twitter.com/AlisonEBC

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