It’s been many years since Stef Barber has been in the sand at Cadboro Bay.
Barber, who uses a wheelchair, was unable to access the beach at Gyro Park as it wasn’t wheelchair-friendly.
Last week Saanich unveiled a new ramp that allow people with mobility issues reach the beach. At the end of the ramp is a 30-metre polyester roll-out mat that sits on top of the sand and allows people to roll across the sand.
“There’s so many people with disabilities, mobility issues that would love to be closer to our ocean and enjoy what Saanich has to offer, and we don’t see much accessibility around Canada. I just thought we could be groundbreaking in doing something new,” Barber said.
She contacted Saanich in 2011 about improving accessibility at Gyro Park, and now her vision is a reality.
“The beach area’s never been accessible for folks with disabilities, so as we’re redoing Gyro Park right now, this is one of the things we wanted to do,” said Coun. Nichola Wade, chair of Saanich’s parks, trails and recreation committee. “When you’re redoing that kind of infrastructure, that’s when we need to seize the opportunity and say, ‘Hey, let’s make sure Saanich, as best as we can, is accessible for all residents.”
Rae Roer, Saanich’s manager of parks, says the beach isn’t the only accessibility upgrade that Gyro Park will see. As part of the phased revamp of the park, the playground, trails and picnic areas will also become more accessible.
Barber says she’s proud to have been a part of instigating change in Saanich.
“I just hope that other municipalities, mayors and council members just follow our lead and make it a more inclusive place for everybody,” she said.