Improving access to beaches & trails

Jenni Gehlbach

Gabriola Land and Trails Trust

Wednesday, March 13 2019

Gabriolans can visit beautiful beaches and walk a multitude of forested trails without giving much thought to how they are maintained or managed. But what about those who may be unable to enjoy these trails and beaches due to physical restrictions, whether permanent or temporary? The visually impaired, those who fear falling, the person with a broken ankle, people regularly using wheelchairs or walkers, and young parents pushing strollers and carrying gear, may have difficulty negotiating our trails and beach accesses. Or maybe we simply wish to walk with someone less mobile than ourselves.

As part of its Strategic Plan Gabriola Land and Trails Trust (GaLTT) has committed to improving access to Gabriola’s beaches and trails, and to this end we are currently working with BC Parks to assess the situation at Gabriola Sands Provincial Park (Twin Beaches). Using grant money from BC Parks, GaLTT hired an experienced consultant to report on how to improve accessibility to the beaches and picnic area at Twin Beaches. His report has specified some needed minor changes to parking and pathways, as well as more elaborate enhancements that will require capital investments and fundraising.

Another important task is to ask you what and where improvements are needed for better accessibility. To achieve this, we are conducting a survey among those who use, or want to use, Gabriola’s beaches and trails. What draws you to beaches, trails and parks? What barriers to your enjoyment need to be reduced? What kinds of changes to infrastructure would most benefit the community? 

The survey covers lands managed by Provincial Parks and the Regional District of Nanaimo, as well as Treaty Settlement Lands.

The survey is intended for adults (19 and over) and for youth (13-18). We particularly wish to hear from those with any disability or circumstance that limits their use of beaches and trails. The survey can be completed directly, or by a person’s caregiver. Our survey will run through April 19, Good Friday.

You can complete the survey on-line or on paper:

· Fill out the survey on-line at   https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/galtt-accessibility   (The library in Folk Life Village provides internet access and some staff help.)

· Paper copies of the survey are available at five locations: the library in Folklife Village; the Islands Trust office, Rollo Seniors’ Centre, and the Professional Centre on North Road; and Gabriola Medical Clinic on Church Street.

· Drop off completed surveys at any of these locations or mail them to GaLTT at PO Box 56, Gabriola, V0R 1X0.

· If you are unable to pick up a form, email GaLTT at access@galtt.ca and we will mail or deliver a survey form to you.

All survey responses will be anonymous, and only summary data will be published. Please, share your knowledge and needs with GaLTT to help us strategize improvements to the beaches and trails of our island home.