Top News

Putting out the welcome mat: Four Newfoundland beaches becoming accessible to all

The Town of Deer Lake has installed accessible mats at Deer Lake Beach that will enable people with mobility issues to access and enjoy the beach.
The Town of Deer Lake has installed accessible mats at Deer Lake Beach that will enable people with mobility issues to access and enjoy the beach. — Contributed

Pasadena, Deer Lake, Eastport make it easier for those with mobility issues to enjoy the sand and the water

CORNER BROOK, N.L. — Three communities in the province are installing specialized mats at their beaches to improve accessibility for those with mobility issues.

On the west coast, the Humber Valley towns of Pasadena and Deer Lake have already installed mats on their sandy beaches. And the Eastport Peninsula Recreation and Wellness Committee is about to do the same at two beaches in its area.

The mats provide access to the beach and water not just for people in wheelchairs, but those with other mobility issues, such as those who use walkers, and even parents with strollers.


Visitors to Pasadena Beach who have with mobility issues can now access the beach on specialized accessible mats. The town has also purchased two accessible wheelchairs that can go in the water.
Visitors to Pasadena Beach who have with mobility issues can now access the beach on specialized accessible mats. The town has also purchased two accessible wheelchairs that can go in the water.

 


Wanda Wight, Pasadena’s recreation director, said getting the mats for Pasadena Beach is something a resident suggested to her some time ago.

“Our beach is a very nice beach,” she said, adding that in the past couple of years the town has been working to improve conditions there.

“It’s just another piece of the puzzle,” she said of the decision to install the mats.

“There’s lots of opportunities that I see as recreation director for funding,” said Wight, who submitted an application under the federal government’s enabling accessibility fund.

The town received $20,917 from the fund and has put in the remaining $9,638 of the $29,917 project.

The town has installed 175 feet of Mobi-Mat on the beach. The mat starts at the parking area next to the wheelchair ramp at the Oasis restaurant and goes right to the water.


“(People using them) can go right into the lake and enjoy the water and summertime the same as anyone else.” — Pasadena Mayor Gary Bishop


The town has also installed mats off to the side that can be used as a patio-type picnic area, and has purchased two wheelchairs that can go into the water.

Wight said the mats have been getting quite a bit of use.

“We’ve got lots of good comments and some stories on it,” she said, such as, it’s the first time some people have been to the beach in years and how good it felt to be able to do that.

The wheelchairs haven’t been used yet and Wight figures it’s due to the late start in getting the mats in place. But they can still be booked for 90 minutes at no cost to the user by calling 686-2135.

Mayor Gary Bishop said the accessibility project is the next phase in improving the beach.

“We live in a more inclusive world now than we did in the past, which is very important.”

The wheelchairs, he said, can go right in the water and are floatable.

“(People using them) can go right into the lake and enjoy the water and summertime the same as anyone else.”

'Right thing to do'

Deer Lake Mayor Dean Ball said beach mats had been on his town’s radar for a couple of years.

He said there wasn’t anyone or any group pushing to make it happen, but the town felt it was a good time to do it.

“Because it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

“We want to be a forward-thinking community,” Ball said, adding that it means taking accessibility into account in anything the town does.

“We want to make it as user friendly as possible. To make all public areas more accessible.”

The town included money in its current budget for the project and also received a grant from the province’s community healthy living fund. The cost of the project was $23,000.

The town has installed four sections of mats that are each 50 feet long, with 100 feet running down to the water and another 100 feet running off to one side.

Ball said the town is getting a lot of positive feedback on the mats, both from users and from people who don’t need to use them.

The Mobi-Mat at Northside Beach in Eastport was installed on Wednesday morning. - Contributed
The Mobi-Mat at Northside Beach in Eastport was installed on Wednesday morning. - Contributed

Saltwater joys

Kathy Hodder, a volunteer with the Eastport Peninsula Recreation and Wellness Committee, said there are three fabulous beaches on the Eastport Peninsula, with Eastport Beach and Northside Beach in Eastport and Sandy Cove Beach in Sandy Cove.

But like the other beaches, the lack of accessibility has been brought up to the committee a few times.

She said the committee started talking last winter about getting some Mobi-Mats, and did apply for funding, but the COVID-19 pandemic interfered with that. Then the committee learned about the emergency community support fund, and Hodder put together an application, and the committee was successful in receiving some funding.

The big difference between the beaches on the Eastport Peninsula and the ones on the west coast is they’re located on the North Atlantic, so these will be the first mats to go on an ocean beach in the province.

The cost of each 50-foot section of mat is just under $4,000, and the committee has purchased three sections. Hodder didn’t have the exact cost of the project when she spoke with Saltwire Network, as she said there will be other costs associated with building ramps and putting in accessible parking.

The committee had to build a wheelchair ramp at Eastport Beach, and 50 feet of the mat will extend from the ramp to the ocean, with another 50 feet running perpendicular to it along the sand on the shore. The mat at Northside Beach will run straight from the bridge out 50 feet to the water.

The mats arrived on Tuesday and one was installed on Northside Beach on Wednesday. The one for Eastport Beach will be installed over the next couple of days. The steep bank at Sandy Cove Beach prevents mats from being placed there.

Hodder said people think the project is a good one.

“There’s just so much excitement about it. It improves our tourism business, and for people who live here year-round, it gives much better accessibility. It’s just great to see.”

Twitter: WS_DianeCrocker


The Eastport Peninsula Recreation and Wellness Committee built a ramp at Eastport Beach in Eastport and will connect an accessibility mat to it on the beach that will extend out to the water. - Contributed
The Eastport Peninsula Recreation and Wellness Committee built a ramp at Eastport Beach in Eastport and will connect an accessibility mat to it on the beach that will extend out to the water. — Contributed

RELATED:

Did this story inform or enhance your perspective on this subject?
1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

Recent Stories