As long-standing residents of Powell River, we havenot really been involved with accessibility issues in the city. Since our 47-year-old son had a severe stroke in September 2018, we have had to use a wheelchair full time for his transport.
While we applaud the city in trying to obtain funding for improving accessibility in the city, we are missing some simple steps [“City of Powell River applies for grants to improve accessibility in civic facilities,” June 24].
Willingdon Beach has a sloped concrete ramp that starts at the playground and ends at the Beach Hut (Alberni Street side). It currently has two raised portions of cement, which forces one to reverse the wheelchair to get past them. This pathway also is very narrow, which makes it almost a one-way path unless one moves onto the rough ground adjacent. Lastly, there are only two handicap parking spaces at the roadside on either side of the Beach Hut. These are both single, narrow handicap spaces, which forces one to use the paved roadway to move to the parked vehicle. As well, it is only a single vehicle width, therefore, no side loading.
End loading puts users with minimum room to lower the ramp and load in the traffic flow. It should be noted that these parking spaces are consistently occupied by non-wheelchair labelled vehicles. Both of these spaces should be on the Alberni side of the Beach Hut with enough width to allow side loading of a wheelchair.
Walkways throughout Willingdon Beach area have a coarse gravel, which will stop the small front wheelchair wheel abruptly. Pushing a wheelchair on uneven grass is a workout for the fittest, let alone a senior.
The old arena site has small pea gravel, which prevents walkers and wheelchairs from traversing. Sadly, our son could not view the cars at the Logger Sports event.
I can continue outlining other areas of concern, so my suggestion is to invite members of council and engineering staff to push a wheelchair around our nice city for two hours. It is enlightening.
Our current society is focused on alternate methods of transportation: walking, bicycling, electric cars. But we have forgotten that when you are in a wheelchair or a walker, the options are limited to the path surface and door width.
We as a community have prided ourselves on our outdoors and our inclusive activities. I would wish the community to accept the challenge to become what we have preached to the world.
Dave and Margaret Hodgins