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Access Oceanside wants Parksville council to make beach accessible

Solutions such as extending existing concrete ramps or Mobi-mat installation suggested
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A mobility beach chair is one possibility suggested by Accessible Oceanside to provide accessible beach access at the Parksville community beach for those with limited mobility. (Submitted photos)

Access Oceanside Association (AOA) passed a resolution urging the City of Parksville to make provision for persons with limited mobility to be able to access the beach and water at Parksville Community Park.

The main barrier is the approximately 30 meters of soft sand and rock which prevents persons with limited mobility — whether in a wheelchair or using a walker — to access the hard-packed sand and water, according to a news release by AOA.

“Even after the recent extensive upgrades and renovation to the park this year, there is no indication the City has a plan to make the beach and water accessible to everyone,” the release said.

Maggie Tietjen, a recent amputee and member of AOA, says that when her daughter and four year-old granddaughter visited from Montreal this past summer, she had to stay up on the boardwalk and watch them enjoy the beach, as she could not cross the rocks and sand to join them.

“It was a very frustrating/disappointing experience and I felt humiliated that I had to just sit there in my wheelchair,” Tietjen said in the release.

There are a number of ways that this barrier can be removed. For example, by extending the existing concrete ramps or by installation of a Mobi-mat, at least during the summer season when demand for such access is highest.

Other coastal communities such as Nanaimo and Tofino have installed these mats to make beach access available to all.

READ MORE: Parksville group hopes to see Mobi-mat available for use at beaches

Access Oceanside is also pressing Parksville to make mobility beach chairs available so that persons with reduced mobility can safely exit and enter the water for a swim.

Sandra Hobson, Chair of Access Oceanside, says that the Parksville Beach draws visitors from around the world every summer, and it is a tragedy that not everyone can access or enjoy it. With a high proportion of seniors living in the Oceanside region, accessibility is a major challenge for many residents and barriers such as this need to be addressed.

Together with support from the Parksville Beach Festival Society and the Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association, AOA is hoping that the City of Parksville will set a plan in motion so that everyone will be able to enjoy the famous Parksville Beach in Summer 2024.

The resolution was passd at AOA’s Oct. 11 meeting.

The AOA is a non-profit organization whose mission is to raise awareness and provide education while working toward a community of inclusion for all to live, work and play in a barrier-free community.

— NEWS Staff, submitted