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

Councillor raises accessibility issue at Oct. 16 meeting
A non-slip mat was installed at the open beach access in the waterfront in Qualicum Beach in 2021. (Town of Qualicum Beach photo)

Access Oceanside Association (AOA) would like to see improved access to Parksville beaches for people who use a wheelchair.

Coun. Amit Gaur brought up the issue at council’s Oct. 16 meeting.

“One major thing of concern to the members is beach access,” Gaur said. “They would really like to see something like the Mobi-mat that other municipalities are putting up.”

The mats, which make it easier for people with mobility issues to easily access sandy areas waterfronts, have been set up at beaches in Qualicum Beach and Nanaimo in recent years.

“I know there are some challenges with it, with the tides and whatnot, and the approvals from DFO (Fisheries and Oceans Canada),” said Gaur. “But I think it’s about time Parksville does something about beach access and also accessible wheelchairs that go all the way down to the water. So this is an ongoing issue and they would like it to be addressed.”

Gaur clarified the AOA has not yet identified a cost or fundraised, but is in discussions with the Parksville Qualicum Tourism Association, the Parksville Beach Festival Society, the city and the province’s accessibility committee.

Mayor Doug O’Brien suggested the accessibility committee is the best avenue to pursue the idea.

“I think that is a more holistic view of providing access not just to one beach but maybe to other beaches in our area as well,” he said.

READ MORE: Qualicum Beach to extend accessible beach mat pilot project

O’Brien also recommended reaching out to the Town of Qualicum Beach, which has recent experience with a Mobi-mat.

The town purchased a Mobi-mat in 2021 for $12,000, following a request from a member of the public for improved mobility access to the hard packed sand along the beach. It was installed as a pilot project at the old boat ramp west of the Shore Restaurant at the waterfront.

The moving gravel and waves on the Qualicum Beach waterfront meant the mat required adjustment and removal of debris on almost a daily business, according to Rob Dickinson, director of infrastructure services.

Qualicum Beach is exploring ways to maintain the Mobi-mat, including consulting the province which enacted the Accessible BC Act in 2021, a law that provides framework to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility.

Kevin Forsyth

About the Author: Kevin Forsyth

As a lifelong learner, I enjoy experiencing new cultures and traveled around the world before making Vancouver Island my home.
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