Photo: An accessible mat rolled out at an RVCA beach.
(Via Rideau Valley Conservation Authority)
Beach-lovers of all ages and abilities can enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches at Baxter and Rideau Ferry conservation areas this summer thanks to the RVCA’s new accessible beach mats.
The heavy-duty mats will help people with mobility devices like wheelchairs, walkers and strollers access the Rideau River without worrying about getting stuck in the sand. They’re part of a suite of accessibility tools and upgrades the RVCA has introduced to make its conservation areas more inclusive.
“Investing in accessibility is a priority for us, especially as the pandemic highlights the importance of getting outside and connecting with nature,” said RVCA’s Conservation Lands Manager Chelsey Ellis.
“These mats will make our beaches a more welcoming space for everyone in our watershed.”
Baxter Conservation Area is located in Kars at the southernmost edge of the City of Ottawa. Rideau Ferry Yacht Club Conservation Area is located on the north shore of Lower Rideau Lake in the township of Drummond/North Elmsley.
Both boast beautiful sand beaches that are extremely popular during the hottest months of the year. But it’s difficult for someone in a wheelchair or pushing a walker or stroller to navigate the unstable sand. The mats solve that problem: they span the entire beach and even extend several feet into the water, allowing a wheelchair user to go for a dip if they choose.
The mats, made by Mobi-Mats, are part of several accessibility upgrades recently introduced or in the works at RVCA properties. Earlier this winter, Baxter also purchased a set of accessible sleds to help students with special needs participate in its outdoor education programs.
Baxter is on the cusp of a major transformation to become Eastern Ontario’s most accessible wilderness haven thanks to the efforts of Nature For All, a fundraising campaign to upgrade the site’s boardwalks and marshland bridge to the gold standard of accessibility. The campaign, led by former world ski champion and accessibility advocate Mike Nemesvary, is now accepting public donations.