Park board making Vancouver beaches, pools more accessible

Vancouver Courier

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Jacques Courteau, co-chair of the City of Vancouver Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee, tried out one of the park board’s new water wheelchairs. Photo Vancouver Park Board

Two of Vancouver’s most popular beaches are now more accessible for people with mobility challenges.

As part of the second phase of its commitment to making local beaches more inclusive, Vancouver Park Board this week installed a Mobi-Mat, a non-slip beach access path, at Kits Beach. The park board installed the first Mobi-Mat at English Bay Beach last summer.

“Feedback from the beach mat at English Bay Beach has been extremely positive,” park board chair Stuart Mackinnon said in a press release. “If you’re in a wheelchair, going to the beach can be an ordeal as you need the help of a strong friend or lifeguard. Beach mats give those with mobility challenges the freedom to visit the beach on their own if they want.”

Jacques Courteau, co-chair of the City of Vancouver Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee, has praise for the Mobi-Mat after a visit to English Bay last week.

“I got out of my chair and lowered myself onto the ground,” he said. “It was awesome to just stretch there on the warm sand. I stayed about one hour. It was glorious. I will certainly do this more often this year.”

In addition to the Mobi-Mats, the park board has 10 new water wheelchairs available at various beaches and pools across the city. The water wheelchairs will be available starting June 1 at Kits, Second Beach and New Brighton outdoor pools, as well as a number of beaches — English Bay, Kits, Jericho, Second Beach, Spanish Banks (east and west) and Trout Lake.

The chairs do require an attendant and are available on a first-come-first-served basis at no charge until Labour Day long weekend. The chairs are available at the lifeguard station at each location between 11:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. For more information visit vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/accessible-beaches.aspx.

“Inclusion and access are core values of the Vancouver Park Board,” Mackinnon said. “In addition to our commitment to accessible beaches, the Board has removed barriers to recreation based on income, race, gender and mobility and has forged a new relationship with community centre partners through a shared commitment to equitable access to recreation for all residents.”

@JessicaEKerr
jkerr@vancourier.com

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