People enjoy the accessible beach mats at Goose Spit in Comox

Beach accessibility an issue

Campbell River Access Awareness Committee is lobbying city council to make some changes so no one is left out

There is a group of Campbell Riverites finding it difficult to enjoy the community’s public beaches.

That’s because it’s nearly impossible for them to get on to the sand and close to the water. The group in question encompasses all of those people who are in a wheelchair.

And the Campbell River Access Awareness Committee is lobbying city council to make some changes so no one is left out. Beverley Gill, chairperson of the committee, said the group is hoping to secure some accessible beach mats, similar to those which are being used at Goose Spit in Comox.

“These mats link together to provide a hard surface that people can wheel onto to access the beach,” Gill wrote in a letter to council. “They provide opportunity for persons with disabilities to be able to get right onto the beach with their friends and families.”

Gill said the mats are installed on top of the sand and rocks, above the high tide line, and are held together with screws.

They are typically removed during the winter months to protect them from the elements.

“The mats are put down in April after the winter storms and remain in place until the first week in October when they are taken up, put on pallets and stored undercover,” Gill said.

Last week, the Access Awareness Committee put forward to council a request for a ramp and seating area similar to what is in place at Goose Spit and recommended the city look at popular Ken Forde beach.

Council, at its Nov. 4 meeting, on a recommendation from the city’s Community Services, Recreation and Culture Commission, asked city staff to report back on potential locations for the beach mats and installation costs.

“The commission believes there is value in exploring the possibility of installing accessible beach mats to provide disabled access to city-owned waterfront properties in Campbell River,” wrote Ross Milnthorp, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture, in a report to council.

Gill said the mats would go a long way in “removing barriers to accessibility” and will help “create an accessible community for all.”