New Brunswick

Here are the N.B. beaches that have accessibility features

Finding information about which beaches in New Brunswick have accessibility features isn’t always easy, Para NB manager Mathieu Stever said. 

Parlee Beach starting season with new accessible washroom and Mobi-mat

Mobi-mats allows wheelchair users to move across the sand to the water. Parlee Beach in New Brunswick will be unrolling its mat in the next couple of weeks. (Mobi-Mat)

It hasn't always been easy to find out which beaches in New Brunswick have accessibility features for people with limited mobility. 

But this year, Para NB manager Mathieu Stever is excited about changes coming to Tourism NB and Parks NB's websites that will make the information easier to find. 

"In the past I've always had to be word of mouth," Stever said.

The province worked with Ability NB, which also operates Para NB, to review its tourism and parks websites to improve how accessibility information is communicated. 

The websites will be updated mid-summer.

Mathieu Stever, manager of non-profit Para NB, is working with the province to audit recreational accessibility at two provincial parks this summer. (Supplied by Mathieu Stever)

Accessibility features at beaches can include things like Mobi-mats, which stretch out across the sand and allow wheelchairs to get close to the water. Other features include boardwalks, floating wheelchairs, hippocampe beach wheelchairs, and washrooms and changing rooms large enough to accommodate wheelchairs.

"I just think of it more as a human rights issue, being every single person, it doesn't matter what the ability is or what disability they have, should have access to every single service that someone that doesn't have a disability [has]," Stever said.

Here's what's available, and where, in New Brunswick:

  • Parlee Beach: A mobi–mat, which will be rolled out in the next few weeks; floating beach chairs; a hippocampe beach wheelchair; accessible boardwalks; and new this year, an accessible washroom, changing room, and playground.
  • Mactaquac: two hippocampe wheelchairs and a floating beach chair
  • New River Beach: hippocampe wheelchair 
  • Aboiteau Beach (Plage de l'Aboiteau): Similar features to Parlee Beach, including a Mobi-mat, water wheelchairs, and ramps
  • Kouchibouguac: access mats are available
  • Beresford Beach: floating wheelchair and accessible boardwalk
  • Youghall Beach (Bathurst): floating wheelchairs

Para NB, which is part of Ability NB, also has six hippocampe wheelchairs available to loan out. 

New this year, Parlee Beach has a washroom and changing facility that can accommodate wheelchairs. Ability NB worked with the province on the design, to ensure the ground floor was big enough and there were paved pathways leading to the building. (Supplied by Melanie Deveau )

The province has been working with Ability NB to review New Brunswick's ten provincial parks when it comes to accessible infrastructure — campgrounds, trails, and buildings. 

Mactaquac, Parlee, Hopewell Rocks, and Murray Beach have all undergone these reviews, and the remaining parks will be done by August. 

Stever said Ability NB is also working with the province on recreation and inclusivity audits for Parlee Beach and Hopewell Rocks.

The audits will focus more on activity and signage than infrastructure.

It's a new service Stever said the non-profit launched in April. 

Parlee Beach now has an accessible playground. (Supplied by Melanie Deveau)

If Ability NB audits a beach, for example, Stever said they start at the parking lot and work their way toward the water. 

"If there's gravel between the parking lot and the beach itself, automatically you're going to be stuck," he said.

The province's beaches have to reach out to Ability NB for this auditing service. 

Melanie Deveau, assistant deputy minister for parks and tourism, said the accessibility features at Parlee Beach Provincial Park are a guide for what the rest of the province should have, though she said some options, like a Mobi-mat, aren't possible at locations like New River Beach because of the tides. 

She added the province is working with beach and other tourism operators to let them know about the auditing services Ability NB can offer.

"Many of them don't even know that that's available, so that's one of our goals, is to get that word out that these places can be working with Ability NB on how to make their operations more accessible."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Raechel Huizinga

Writer and social media editor

Raechel Huizinga is a CBC writer and acting social media editor based in Moncton, N.B You can reach her at raechel.huizinga@cbc.ca.

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