Overcoming some access issues at Forward House in Parksville

A new concrete pathway has been poured off the alley behind the house, leading to a deck onto the back door

Mobility-challenged clients will soon have an easier time accessing the services of Parksville’s Forward House, thanks to a donation from Knox United Church and a provincial rehab grant.

“We’ve been here almost two years, and we have stairs in front, stairs in back,” said Sharon Welch, executive director of Forward House. “No matter which way you go, there has just been no way to get someone with mobility issues into the house.”

Now, however, a new concrete pathway has been poured off the alley behind the house, leading to a wheelchair-, walker- and scooter-accessible deck onto the back door. The final piece of construction, which is expected to be completed in March, will be replacing the sliding door off the deck, which currently does not permit passage of a full-sized wheelchair, Welch said.

Funding for the project, which will include a second phase of interior renovation, started with a seed donation of $3,200 from Knox United Church. Forward House, which provides day programs for clients with mental health and addiction issues, leveraged that funding to obtain a $4,377 B.C. Rehab grant.

“Almost all of our clients live independently still,” said Welch. “But we are seeing more and more using canes, and some driving scooters to the house.”

To that end, a scooter parking area has been cleverly created in an alcove of the new deck.

Welch said the need for mobility-challenged access was driven home one day late last year, when a client awaiting hip and knee replacement surgeries arrived to negotiate the four steps to the back door.

“Even with two people helping her, she was in tears as she came in and out,” said Welch. “That just reinforced the need.”

She said a member of the community has donated a small, folding wheelchair to Forward House, so wheelchair-bound clients may temporarily access the building with volunteer help by transferring from their larger chair to the donated unit.

Phase II of the project will be the changing of some interior walls and widening a bathroom doorway to allow passage of a wheelchair, she said. When the project is completed, Forward House hopes to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“We’re hoping it’s going to be completed in its entirety in mid-April,” said Welch. “That’s the goal.”

Forward House, which works in partnership with a variety of area social service organizations, is funded primarily through Island Health, along with community donations and $20,000 in grants Welch was able to secure in the past year. But funding challenges remain.

“We just had to purchase a new trailer last year, and there’s just not a lot left to get a truck,” said Welch, who hopes community donations can help offset the need. To learn more or to donate to Forward House, call 250-954-0785.

Just Posted

Qualicum Beach society goes to bat for insect eaters

Two bat houses built to monitor population in Heritage Forest

Parksville reopens portion of wetland

City undertakes review, remediation of liability concerns

Is Steve Nash Vancouver Island’s best athlete of all-time?

As Captain Canada gets ready to enter basketball’s Hall of Fame it’s time to debate his legacy

Who is Vancouver Island’s greatest athlete ever?

We want to know, you get to choose in a 64-athlete tournament bracket

Vehicle knocks out Parksville power pole

Traffic single lane heading southbound

VIDEO: Grand Forks shores up defences as floodwaters rise to peak levels

Canadian Forces, volunteers working to protect low-lying areas

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Canada to face U.S. for bronze at world hockey championship

Canada was looking to play in the gold medal game for a fourth straight year, but saw 3-2 loss

Searchers for Vancouver Island father turn focus to Cowichan River

Cowichan SAR joined by many other SAR groups, volunteers now determined to find missing man

Vacationers urged to check for stowaway bats that could carry deadly disease

‘White-nose syndrome’ has killed millions of bats in North America, but hasn’t arrived in B.C. yet

Highway 19A closed in both directions near Union Bay

An incident involving a vehicle has shut down Highway 19A in both directions early Saturday morning.

Are B.C.’s gas prices enough to keep you from travelling May long weekend?

Gas prices in B.C. ranging from 125 cents per litre to more than 150 cents

Most Read