News Aug 29, 2020
by Colleen Romaniuk Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Sudbury Star
Although summer is coming to a close, Elliot Lake has made good on its promise to make local beaches more accessible by installing beach access mats for wheelchair users.
The MobiMats, which were purchased from Wheelchair Friendly Solutions Inc. in the winter of 2019 as part of the community’s Age Friendly Elliot Lake Action Plan, are designed to ensure safe and inclusive accessibility to the water.
Due to COVID-19, the mats are being installed at both Spruce and Spine beaches much later than expected, but community development officer Amanda Roy hopes people will be able to make the most of them before they are removed in early fall.
“The day the mats were being installed, the install was not even completed and we had members of the community coming to look and ask questions about the mats. So far, we’ve received very enthusiastic and excited responses,” she said.
“The mats and water wheelchairs were supposed to be installed in spring 2020, but the beaches being closed delayed the install. The mats can also be used in the winter, and we hope that they will also make community winter events and activities inclusive and accessible.”
The MobiMats are AODA compliant, portable and removable, and provide an access route that can be used by individuals of varying abilities who are unable to navigate through the sand.
“The MobiMat products are the only accessibility beach mat system that is not only designed to be used at beaches that are sand and stone but is the only mat system in the world specifically designed to be used in the cold and on top of snow as well as on grass or uneven or sloped surfaces,” the city said in a press release.
“Being so quick and easy to reinstall, the mats can be used year-round by the city to improve accessibility at events and locations throughout the community. For example, the mats can be used during Winterfest, Fishing Derby, Drag Races, and Uranium Heritage Day festivities.”
Elliot Lake has also purchased water wheelchairs called Mobi-Chairs that are capable of floating in water thanks to its flotational wheels and armrests.
The total cost for the mats and the wheelchairs was $72,764.
Staff, council, and Elliot Lake’s Accessibility Advisory Committee volunteer members took part in accessibility training earlier this year.
The city has just drafted the 2020-35 Multi-Year Accessibility Plan with a list of action items that will be going for review at the next Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting.
Elliot Lake is part of the World Health Organization’s Network of Age Friendly Cities and Communities.
“The city would like to see a fully inclusive, barrier free, accessible Age Friendly community in the future,” said Roy.
For more information on Age Friendly Elliot Lake and accessibility, visit http://www.elliotlake.ca.
This reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.