Beaches can be an accessibility challenge for park visitors using walkers or wheelchairs. Because of the soft sand, wheels and legs of walkers can sink in, making them tough to maneuver.
As a part of our commitment to making parks as accessible as possible, more parks are offering beach accessibility measures to help visitors explore our shorelines.
One of these parks is Pancake Bay, located on the shores of Lake Superior.
Pancake Bay is home to over 3 km of Ontario’s most beautiful white sand beaches. Now, those beaches are even more accessible to park visitors.
Pancake Bay recently purchased two new all-terrain wheelchairs to help park visitors access the water.
The all-terrain wheelchairs have large wheels to make movement through the lumps and bumps of a sandy beach easier. That way, visitors using the wheelchairs can get right down to the water’s edge.
The other chair, a Mobi, is available for use in water, meaning visitors can enjoy the cool blue waters of Lake Superior while at the park. It is buoyant, versatile, and easy-to-use with the assistance of a helper.
If you are interested in renting the chairs, please call ahead and the park will set one aside for you. If you’re a guest in the campground, you can visit the gatehouse to request the chair.
The chairs are available free of charge. Park staff will drop off the wheelchair wherever you need it in the park.
Beach mats are another way of helping ensure all visitors can enjoy beaches.
Beach mats are portable, non-slip mats which are placed along beaches to allow for easier movement with walkers, wheelchairs, or strollers.
Four parks in Ontario have beach mats available for visitors: Sandbanks, Wasaga Beach, Quetico, and Long Point.
At Sandbanks, the mats are set out on July 1 for use throughout the summer. The mats are laid across from the beach store.
Wasaga Beach Provincial Park acquired its beach mats through an accessibility partnership with the Town of Wasaga Beach. They are placed along the sand from early summer to fall, and are kept maintained by park staff.
At Quetico, an accessible pathway winds through the Dawson Trail Campground, leading to the Grassy Beach. This trail transitions into beach mats at the water’s edge.
Long Point also has mats which help visitors get over the sand dunes to access the beach.
Additional beach accessibility
Other Ontario Parks working to make the waterfront more accessible include:
Park visitors with accessibility needs can get right onto the beaches of Georgian Bay with Awenda’s all-terrain wheelchair.
A long as there is someone to push the chair it can make it down the more accessible trails, the boardwalk, and onto the beach. Some visitors also use the chair to get around their campsite.
This is a free service for visitors through the park office. Park staff can also meet you with the chair where you need it, and pick it up afterwards.
Awenda also has waterfront accessibility at Kettle’s Lake. Visitors in wheelchairs can follow the platform to the water’s edge for a view of the beautiful lake or to cast a line for panfish.
Wasaga Beach has four wheelchairs: two all-terrain and two Mobi chairs to be used in the water. All wheelchairs were purchased through a partnership with the Town of Wasaga Beach.
The user of the Mobi wheelchairs must wear a lifejacket at all times. It can be used at Beach Areas 2 and 5. One is available at the park office and the other at Nancy Island. The all-terrain wheelchairs can be found in the same locations. All wheelchairs are available for free, however a deposit is required.
Wasaga Beach also has an accessible boardwalk at Beach Areas 1 and 2. The new comfort stations are all accessible, with rampways and walkways for park visitors. There is one located at each beach area.
There is also an accessible fishing ramp at Beach Area 1. A deck has been built out over the river so park visitors can fish off the edge.
Sandbanks also has beach wheelchairs available for park visitors. The wheelchairs can’t go in the water, but visitors can use them to travel along the sandy beaches.
The wheelchairs are available for rent at the Woodyard rental concession. Visitors looking to use the chairs must fill out a form, however the chairs do not require a deposit.
This year, Rondeau received a new beach wheelchair available for park visitors. This chair can be used on the beach and in the water.
To rent the chair, all you have to do is call to the Visitor Centre. Park staff will deliver the chair to wherever it’s needed, and pick it up afterwards.
Stay tuned in the coming months, as Rondeau will be receiving a new all-terrain wheelchair as well.
You can access Quetico’s beautiful waters with an all-terrain wheelchair available for loan from the Heritage Pavilion at the Dawson Trail Campground.
This chair is available free of charge, and requires a helper to push it. The chair can be used to access the Boardwalk Trail, which runs from the Heritage Pavilion along the French River.
Port Burwell has one all-terrain wheelchair available for use. Rental of the chair is free for park visitors, and it can be used on the park’s beaches.
Pinery also has one all-terrain wheelchair available for use. It is free of charge, however the visitor must fill out a form.
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