If you’ve got wheels or hot feet, there is now an easy way to the water at Woodbine Beach.
Parks staff recently installed a plastic path to help people cross the sand between the beach boardwalk and the shoreline south of Donald D. Summerville Pool.
Geordy Cook, 7, discovered it last week on a bike ride with his mom.
“I like it,” he said, taking a break from pitching stones into Lake Ontario.
“It’s an excellent way for running down and not tripping and falling flat on your face. And it’s excellent for bringing your bikes down because you don’t have to pull them through the sand.”
James Dann, manager of waterfront parks, said the path at Woodbine and another at Centre Island Beach on the Toronto Islands were installed as a pilot project to make the beaches more accessible.
“People are able to use a wheelchair, a wagon, a stroller, a bicycle – anything with wheels that people would not be able to take down to the water,” he said.
Fixed firmly in the sand, Dann said the paths can be swept clear in all but the winter months. After a review, the city might install more, but no future locations have been selected so far.
Lorene Bodiam, parks advocate for people with disabilities, said the paths are one more step toward a provincial goal of making Ontario more accessible by 2025.
“You’ll start to see, just generally across the province, accessibility improving hugely,” said Bodiam.
Even before the new paths were put in, wheelchair users could cover more ground at Woodbine and Centre Beach by borrowing one of the city’s two all-terrain wheelchairs.
With big, soft wheels, the chairs are a “cushy ride,” said Bodiam, though they do require an able-bodied friend or family member to move.
They can be booked in advance by phoning 416-392-7688.
Besides buildings and equipment, Bodiam said parks staff are making more accessible signs and maps – the parks guide now shows which washrooms are wheelchair accessible, for example, and which trails have a hard surface.
Residents can also do their part by donating money toward an accessible picnic table in a Toronto park.
Designed by retired engineers who volunteer at the March of Dimes, the square tables have two seats and two sides with room for wheelchairs, strollers, or other mobility devices. Like the new path on Woodbine Beach, Bodiam said the tables make parks more welcoming to everyone.
“That’s really what all this is about,” she said. “It’s a universal design.”
For information on donating towards March of Dimes picnic tables, phone 416-425-3463 ext. 369.