A recent trip to Melmerby Beach ended in disappointment for a Pictou County resident and her son.
Karen Seeley-Lowe and her son Jordan Lowe, 18, took a trip to the beach last week only to find the provincial park inaccessible for Jordan, who is wheelchair-bound.
As they arrived at the beach, Seeley-Lowe noticed that the walkway to the beach from the parking lot and shower area was covered in a few inches of sand, making it difficult for Jordan’s power wheelchair to make it to the walkway look-off deck.
“It was a little disheartening,” Seeley-Lowe said. As well as the walkway being covered in sand and not cleared off, the accessibility ramp that leads from the walkway look-off deck on to the beach was also filled in with sand and barricaded by a board.
“It would save me from trying to carry him up to the stairs,” said Seeley-Lowe of the ramp. Due to the barricade and filled in ramp to take her son on to the beach, she had to leave his chair on the deck part and would have to carry him up and down the stairs, something that can be dangerous if she were to trip or fall, she noted. Normally, Seeley-Lowe said Jordan would take his chair down to the bottom of the ramp and save her from having to navigate stairs with him.
“We’re not trying to cause a lot of ruckus,” she said.
Last year, Jordan was invited to a summit to see Rick Hanson talk about accessibility advocating and since then it has been something he and his mother have both felt passionately about.
Along with the walkway conditions, Seeley-Lowe noted that there was a food truck parked in one of the accessible parking spaces. After having contacted the food truck, she said the operator told her they had been instructed to park there.
The Department of Natural Resources had this to say about the food truck when contacted by The Advocate: “The Department of Natural Resources provided the food truck operator with a permit to operate on the site for this fiscal year. The operation required access to electricity so work was undertaken to relocate the accessible parking spots to another area. A new parking spot was created and the full complement of accessible spaces has been maintained. The markings on the former parking spot were to have been removed. This did not occur right away, but the situation is being corrected.”
Seeley-Lowe has also contacted the Department of Natural Resources to file a complaint about the walkway and accessibility ramp.
The DNR also commented on that by way of a statement: “Melmerby Beach is a beautiful part of Nova Scotia and we understand that people want to have access to it. The department’s regional staff, as well as the lifeguards on duty, have been doing their best to keep the ramp accessible. However, it is a beach environment and subject to wind, weather and surf. As a result, conditions affecting access to the beach can change on a daily basis. If people have concerns about accessibility, they should contact the regional office and we will do our best to assist.”
Karen Seeley-Lowe said that the ramp, as well as the walkway at Melmerby Beach, were filled in with several inches of sand making it difficult for those using wheelchairs to make it down to the beach.