New equipment at Cape Breton beach creates accessible environment
New equipment at a Cape Breton beach has made it possible for everyone to enjoy the surf and sand.
Callum MacQuarrie broke his neck in a diving accident 23 years ago. Until recently, moving along the sandy beach or taking a cool dip in the ocean were things he could only dream about.
Now, with the recent changes at Nova Scotia’s Inverness Beach, MacQuarrie’s dreams have become a reality.
“It brings a smile to my face. People that have never been on the beach for, some of them 40 to 50 years,” says MacQuarrie. “This is what we wanted to bring here, was inclusiveness for all.”
Inverness Beach is now equipped with a fleet of accessible equipment. There are two Mobi-Chairs that can easily move through wet sand and two floating wheelchairs that allow people with a wide range of abilities to get in the water. Rubber ramps have also been added to create easy access to the beach. The entire project cost approximately $350,000.
“The financing came through and the plans came through and the new concept and we’re probably the first ones in Atlantic Canada to come up with this,” says Tony MacDonald, with the Inverness Development Association.
Mickaela MacIntyre is visiting from Ontario. She says she can only imagine the newfound freedom for those impacted by the changes to the beach.
“This is my first time I've ever seen a wheelchair-accessible beach. I think it's great,” says MacIntyre.
The beach's accessible amenities are already making a splash. People have travelled from all over Cape Breton Island to use them.
“It's nice to see that people can actually enjoy the beach now, that couldn't ever before,” says beachgoer Zoel Cormier.
MacQuarrie says he feels a new sense of independence at the beach.
“I just drove down onto the beach, on the mats, and I sat down on the beach with my family - without them lifting me on the beach – for the first time,” says MacQuarrie.
MacQuarrie hopes the inclusiveness found at Inverness Beach will inspire others around the Maritimes to create something similar where they live.
With files from CTV Atantic's Ryan MacDonald