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Gateway Lodge residents denied easy access to senior-friendly park

Gateway Lodge, a seniors' complex in Prince George, sees the beautifully refurbished Ron Brent Park with all its senior-geared amenities but can't get to it. One resident's daughter is trying to get that changed in time for springtime enjoyment.
Gateway fencing
Here is an illustration created by Reta Herrick to show where the fence is and where a card-locked gate could be installed for easy access to the senior-friendly Ron Brent Park from Gateway Lodge.

For months now, one Gateway Lodge resident’s daughter has been trying to get a gate installed to access the newly transformed Ron Brent Park that is adjacent to the seniors’ complex.

“We’ve been watching the development for two years and now that it’s ready for use we can look at it but we can’t get to it,” Reta Herrick said.

The newly refurbished Ron Brent Park is flanked by Riverbend Manor, Gateway Lodge, the Connaught Youth Centre and Ron Brent Elementary.

The budget set for the senior-friendly park was $1.675 million with no easy access from Gateway to the paved pathways, exercise equipment, horseshoe pits, trails, benches, picnic tables and gardens.

Riverbend Manor has access to the park but it’s a card-locked gate only for residents of the manor. There’s a public walkway at the Gateway Lodge that follows the perimeter of the park but no gate for residents to get to it.

During the pandemic, Herrick said it would be nice for residents to be able to enjoy the beautiful park.

Herrick reached out to the city with her concerns and was told it was Gateway’s decision to not install the gate.

When Herrick found a manager at Gateway to speak with, she was told they didn’t install a gate because of security issues.

Visitors to Gateway get a key card to access the locks throughout the complex. Putting in a card-locked gate like they have to access the community garden set aside for those in complex care wouldn’t be such a hardship, Herrick said.

“My sister is in her mid-40s and is quite able and she took my mother out in the wheelchair,” Herrick said. “To get to the park you have to go down 20th Avenue to the lights by McDonald’s and then up Victoria Street and up quite a steep incline that’s just ridiculous. My sister said it was all she could do to get her up the hill and quite a nightmare on the way back because she had to get her safely down the steep hill and not lose her in traffic on Victoria Street.”

Herrick is hoping that making this concern public now might generate some change in time for springtime access to the park.

Herrick has walked the perimeter of the metal fence that is between Gateway Lodge and Ron Brent Park. From that pathway there is a card lock gate to access the complex care garden that has restricted access to keep everyone safe during the pandemic. It’s not three feet away from the fence that barricades residents from Ron Brent Park.

“When you’ve already got a gate with a key card to a garden at the facility, what harm’s another going to do?” Herrick questioned.

When The Citizen reached out to Northern Health for comment, as Gateway Lodge is one of its many facilities, this is the statement that came back.

“For the safety of our complex care residents and staff, access between the Gateway property and public spaces such as Ron Brent Park is closely controlled and monitored. At this time, we are not considering adding access between the facility and the public park.”