Park Board improves beach experience with second Mobi-Mat and new water wheelchairs for those with mobility challenges

May 25 2018

"If you’re in a wheelchair, going to the beach can be an ordeal as you need the help of a strong friend or a lifeguard. Beach mats give those with mobility challenges the freedom to visit the beach on their own if they want,” said Chair Stuart Mackinnon.

Person using an accessible beach mat

The beach is calling …. and this year two of Vancouver's most popular beaches will be fully accessible to people with mobility challenges.

It’s the second phase of the Vancouver Park Board’s commitment to a better, more inclusive beach experience for all residents.
 
This week, the Vancouver Park Board installed a Mobi-Mat, a non-slip beach access pathway, at Kitsilano Beach. It’s the second beach mat in Vancouver with the first installed at English Bay Beach last summer. In addition, 10 new water wheelchairs will be available at beaches across the city. The floating wheelchairs will provide persons with disabilities safe access to the ocean, with the assistance of an attendant.

Park Board core values

“Inclusion and access are core values of the Vancouver Park Board. In addition to our commitment to accessible beaches, the Board has removed barriers to recreation based on income, race, gender, and mobility and has forged a new relationship with community centre association partners through a shared commitment to equitable access to recreation for all residents,” said Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon.

“Feedback from the beach mat at English Bay Beach has been extremely positive. If you’re in a wheelchair, going to the beach can be an ordeal as you need the help of a strong friend or a lifeguard. Beach mats give those with mobility challenges the freedom to visit the beach on their own if they want,” said Mackinnon.

Freedom for those in wheelchairs

Jacques Courteau, Co-Chair of City of Vancouver Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee, used the Mobi-Mat at English Bay last year and again last week.

“I got out of my chair and lowered myself onto the ground. It was awesome to just stretch there on the warm sand. I stayed about one hour. It was glorious! I will certainly do this more often this year,” he said.

Water wheelchairs will be available as of June 1 at Kits, Second Beach in Stanley Park, and New Brighton pools and the following beaches: English Bay, Kits, Jericho, Second Beach, Spanish Banks East and West, and Trout Lake. The chairs require an attendant and are available on a first come first served basis, at no charge, at each location’s lifeguard station between Victoria Day and Labour Day long weekends from 11:30am to 8pm. 

Learn more

Adapted programs

The Park Board offers many adapted and integrated recreational activities for children, youth, adults, and seniors with mobility challenges. These activities include aquatic lifts, wheelchairs and assisted entries at pools and ice sleds at rinks. In addition, the Board provides free access to facilities for attendants who support persons with disabilities to swim, skate, exercise in fitness centres, participate in recreation programs and visit parks.

Support is defined as assistance of a physical, psychological, emotional, intellectual, or sensory nature to ensure that the patron with the disability is able to participate.

Find information on the full range of adapted and integrated Park Board programs.

Every year the Board is doing more to make our facilities, parks and beaches more accessible. Two years ago, the Board opened the Southeast False Creek paddling centre. It provides Vancouver’s paddling community with a permanent home and has ramps to allow paddlers with mobility challenges easy access to their boats.

Current estimates are that about 15 percent of Vancouver residents have some form of physical disability or mobility restriction. This includes people using wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and strollers. When you add family and friends, approximately 50 percent of Vancouver residents are affected by barriers to accessibility.