By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
Not everyone enjoys the beach for one reason or another, but the city feels everyone should have the option to go there in Oshawa.
The City of Oshawa has installed AccessMats at Lakeview Park which allow those with disabilities to reach the water.
The mats remove the obstacles which sand caused for them.
According to Aili Oberson, Oshawa’s manager of programs and facilities, the mats cost approximately $10,000.
Ward 4 city councillor Derek Giberson and Ward 5 regional councillor Brian Nicholson believe the mats were overdue.
“I think as long as they’re properly checked everyday and they’re laid out properly, they’re a very positive step,” says Nicholson.
Giberson was a member of the city’s accessibility advisory committee before joining city council.
“I was just really thrilled to see when the accessibility advisory committee and city staff came together to bring [the mats] here,” says Giberson.
Upon seeing a photo of similar mats in another municipality, Giberson knew it was something Oshawa needed.
“Once you see it, and see how well it works, it’s a no brainer… why not make a beach area more accessible for people in our community,” he says.
Nicholson says he’s received some positive feedback on the move via Facebook.
“The one lady who did talk to me about it, she says it’s been years since she’s been able to go down to the beach front and put her feet in the water,” says Nicholson. “She’s in her 60s, and she said that she felt the joy of a kid when she put her feet in the water, because being in a wheelchair, she couldn’t do it.”
To Nicholson, any way the city can encourage people to use the waterfront is “a good thing.”
He notes the mats do roll up at times, but city staff has been doing a good job to maintain them.
“I can’t see why, as a major waterfront community on Lake Ontario, why we wouldn’t do this sooner,” Nicholson adds.
Lisa Hart, chair of the city’s accessibility advisory committee is “thrilled” with the mats, but explains there are some challenges.
“Right now there’s some logistics problems,” explains Hart. “Mother Nature is not cooperating at all.”
She says with water levels being so high, the configuration of the mats had to be changed for safety purposes.
Other than that, the committee is excited.
“I put my feet in the water for the first time in 32 years,” says Hart. “That was amazing.”