New barrier-free pad makes sportfishing more accessible in Cape Breton community
PORT MORIEN, N.S. -- Sportfishing can be extremely difficult for anyone with accessibility issues, but a Cape Breton community just netted a piece of equipment that evens the scales for everyone.
More Maritimers have taken up angling over the course of the pandemic, but some say the sport isn’t accessible to everyone.
That’s why the Port Morien Wildlife Association has a new project, building a barrier-free fishing pad that will provide easier access for people with mobility issues to cast a line.
“I can’t wait to check this out, and try it out,” says Nicole MacNeil, whose son Devon lives with cerebral palsy. “I can’t wait to see Devon’s expression.”
It’s been years in the making, but soon the blockades will be down and the barrier-free fishing site will be open to the public.
“You’re looking at a concrete platform with five fishing stations with handrails specifically designed for a person with disabilities, so they can fish without having a guardrail eye level,” says Jeff McNeil, president of the Port Morien Wildlife Association.
“We have aid devices that cost over $3,000 to assist people with challenges,” says Stan Peach, treasurer of the Port Morien Wildlife Association.
There is also an asphalt ramp which leads to the platform, and a soon to be accessible picnic table pad, which will be set-up for visitors to enjoy.
The project, which cost more than $140,000, was partially government funded, but a lot of the funds came from community donations.
“The small businesses that came onboard, and the individuals that came onboard, we had people donate money for loved ones who passed away, and that was a first for us,” explains Peach.
For MacNeil and her son, it’s a step in the right direction when it comes to breaking barriers for people with disabilities.
“People that are disabled have a harder time to get out to do any adventures, so to have something that’s going to be accessible for everyone is terrific,” says MacNeil.
The grand opening was originally scheduled for early next month, but because of the weather and COVID-19 restrictions, the wait will be a little longer before the first line is cast, and the project becomes a reality.