GaLTT’s work to improve accessibility at Twin Beaches

Gabriola Land and Trails Trust (GaLTT)

Wednesday, January 13 2021

Around mid -January you may notice some work underway on the Pilot Bay side (facing the Strait of Georgia) of Twin Beaches. This will be a small, Covid-distanced team of GaLTT volunteers preparing to improve accessibility from the parking lot to the forest trails, viewpoints, picnic tables, outhouse, and parking lot there. They will remove obstacles and barriers, slightly widen and firm-up pathways, create flat viewpoints, re-top a picnic table, and reposition the outhouse, making it more accessible to wheelchair users. Preparatory work and widening of the gravel pathways can be done in January and February, but the work of pouring concrete for the enlarged picnic table and outhouse pads must be delayed until Spring. Material costs are being financed through a combination of a BC Parks Park Enhancement Fund grant and Gabriola Land and Trails Trust (GaLTT) funds, with GaLTT volunteers providing the labour. 

For several years, Gabriolans with physical disabilities have been lamenting their difficulties of even getting to an ocean viewpoint on Gabriola, let alone actually visiting a beach. 

The two beaches at Gabriola Sands Provincial Park may seem pretty accessible to people who are strong, unencumbered, and steady on their feet. 

But lack of crosswalks on the road, no firm pathways across wet meadows, shifting dunes and big logs all conspire to block users of wheelchairs or walkers, and even parents pushing strollers or with arms full of children’s bulky outdoor equipment, from getting access to the beach. 

In 2019, GaLTT took a survey of Gabriolans’ views on accessibility of Gabriola’s beaches and forest trails and found a strong need for improvements. As a result, we discussed what might be possible by working with the BC and RDN Parks staff. We requested the RDN to remove a large berm at the end of Jeanette Avenue, which enabled GaLTT volunteers to widen and flatten the firm trail into 707 Community Park. Also, RDN Regional Parks Department installed an accessible picnic table and outhouse at the day-use area in Descanso Bay Park (the campground). 

We also petitioned BC Parks about what improvements might be possible at Gabriola Sands and Drumbeg Provincial Parks, reminding them that accessibility is part of the BC Parks mandate.

The work starting this month on the Pilot Bay side is Phase One of GaLTT’s long-term vision for Twin Beaches, which hopefully will eventually include access all the way to the beach on the Taylor Bay side of the park. Meanwhile, cheer on our volunteers as we start small in Phase One at Pilot Bay.