Mayor of Gimli rolls out plan to make beach more accessible

A plan to create a more accessible beach is under way in the Rural Municipality of Gimli, Man.

The portable mats cost $2,500 per 10 metre segment of the recycled polyester

Gimli's mayor hopes to have three mats purchased for the beginning of the summer. (Mobi-Mat)

A plan to create a more accessible beach is under way in the Rural Municipality of Gimli, Man.

Randy Woroniuk, Gimli's mayor, has submitted an application for a federal grant to help the community to purchase Mobi-Mat RECPATHs. 

Mobi-Mat, an American company, creates portable sidewalks out of recycled polyester that can be placed on top of sand to create a beach with unimpeded access right down to the water's edge. 

The idea came from the municipality's economic development clerk who saw online that the mats are used on other beaches, like in Ontario's Wasaga Beach Provincial Park.

"I thought 'this is fantastic.' And some of the testimonials from Wasaga Beach of people who hadn't touched the water with their toes because of mobility issues, I thought 'we need this.'
Wasaga Beach was able to install the accessibility mats in 2008 at two of the beaches after receiving a $12,000 donation to their council. (Mobi-Mat)
 So, went to council, discussed it and we applied for the grant," Woroniuk told CBC's Radio Noon

The mayor said he hopes to buy "lots" of the roll-up walkways overtime but the priority is to purchase three, which at 10 metres each, will reach across the sand beach into Lake Winnipeg. 

Mayor asks for help

Council has applied for a grant because the investment in the Mobi-Mats is $2,500 per 10-metre segment, totaling $7,500 for the first three. 

"What I would like to put out there is I would like to challenge the service clubs of Gimli and the businesses of Gimli, or any organization or group of people, to raise money and to buy a 10-metre section of Mobi-Mats," Woroniuk said. 

He said the added benefit of these mats is that they can be moved around and used in other places as needed, for example, he said they could be used at the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, or for concerts at Gimli's pavilion on the days mud limits mobility. 

"That's what I think is so great about it because people that couldn't access some of our facilities will now be able to do so," Woroniuk said. 

They mayor said with Gimli's aging population, the investment will go a particularly long way and that it would fall under Gimli's beach patrol to maintain the mats.  

"I would hope that we would have at least one stretch done by the beginning of summer," he said. "but I can't promise that."

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