The original accessibility beach mat was named in honour of the late Adam “Wheels” Miller in 2019
In the wake of the successful introduction of the City of North Bay’s first beach accessibility mat at the waterfront on Lake Nipissing, the Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee (MAAC) feels it is time to make Trout Lake accessible.
In discussions in several recent MAAC meetings, members have lamented how to spur the continued expansion of accessibility in North Bay and the committee has resolved to continue to move forward with two action items on its agenda — the beach mats and adult change tables.
The original mat was named in honour of the late Adam “Wheels” Miller in 2019. Miller was a MAAC member and advocate for accessibility.
The MAAC feels a natural place to continue its advocacy is at Olmsted Beach in Armstrong Park. According to the City, it is in the midst of a project that, when complete, will make the park and playground area fully accessible.
But, what about the sandy beach down to the shore of Trout Lake? MAAC feels this would be an ideal spot for the next beach mat, similar to the one at Marathon Beach. The 40-metre long mat at Marathon Beach was purchased for approximately $10,000 some two years ago. It is removed at the end of the season by Parks staff and stored.
MAAC Chair Barb Smith and the committee recognizes the area as a natural fit for the second mat — to accompany the accessible playground, pathways, and washrooms — and will express those findings to the City.
During the group’s last meeting, City of North Bay committee liaison Adam Curran noted a new mat would require a budget line and sought further direction from MAAC on how to proceed. The committee agreed the follow-up action would see Curran communicate with the Parks department. Committee members also observed placing the second mat “at the other end of town,” is a direction they’d like to take to try to spread out the augmented accessibility features across North Bay.
Also on the minds of committee members is the status of the adult lifting change tables that have been discussed at this committee level and by special interest groups, such as PADD (Parents of Adults with Developmental Disabilities). The tables can be used as incontinence aids and help a disabled person avoid changing clothes on the ground or in public and other personal care needs.
According to the City’s website, “The role of the MAAC is to provide recommendations, advice and information to Council and City staff to help carry out their responsibilities under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).”
“If we’re looking at change tables, then [Olmsted Beach] would be a location one could be put in,” offered Smith.
The tables are estimated to cost $10,000 each. The committee discussed gathering more data on how often the tables would be used, especially now with COVID-19 restrictions are easing and folks are venturing out more.
Council representative Scott Robertson suggested — although they might not have hard numbers on usage — it is clear “there are some members in the community that, if this infrastructure was in place,” would have more access to the water and other facilities.
“It might not be realistic to have them in all 43 facilities,” he added, “but if there are members of our community who need them, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have them at a few. Right now, we don’t have them at any.”
Placing the tables in many of the City’s existing structures would prove difficult due to space constraints. The facilities at Olmsted Beach and Amelia Park can both accommodate the tables, Robertson noted, and the committee agreed they would target those locations in their recommendations.
The committee stopped short of formalizing a motion but Curran indicated a representative from Parks would appear at the July 8 meeting to speak on the beach mat, change tables, and any other related accessibility concerns MAAC might have. Then, the committee will move in a unified direction to get the ball rolling on these important projects.