Drumbeg, Descanso, and more

GaLTT is delighted with the accessibility improvements recently made at Drumbeg Provincial Park. Ten volunteers at a November 19 work party spread gravel over path liners to connect the trail and parking lot to the picnic tables and raise the ground level adjacent to them. The tables have been turned 90°, enabling easier wheelchair access and a better view for everyone. The work generated an enthusiastic response from visitors who encountered our crew. And this is just the start! More improvements at Drumbeg are in the works for 2024.

We know how important such modifications are, and these Drumbeg improvements are just the latest project for GaLTT since board member Tom Cameron challenged us to address accessibility. A community survey in 2019 showed just how important these issues are to many Gabriolans and how they will benefit a wide range of beach and trail users.

“My grandson has Cerebral Palsy and uses forearm crutches to walk. Walking is difficult for him, and impossible on uneven surfaces. Being able to come to the park and walk independently to areas, such as the picnic tables, provides him with a greater sense of inclusion in the community, and is an indication that he is a valued member of our society.” —Linda

In 2018 we received a Park Enhancement Fund grant to hire a consultant to comprehensively review accessibility at Gabriola Sands Provincial Park (Twin Beaches). Since then a number of improvements have been made to the Pilot Bay side, including improving the condition of the parking lot, reserving handicapped parking spaces, and enabling the GaLTT trails crew to build an accessible trail from the parking lot to the picnic tables, and to re-work the existing toilet and picnic tables for accessibility. The Taylor Bay side remains problematic because of eroding foreshore and seasonal flooding of the meadow.

Improving trailhead access to the Jeanette trail in 707 Community Park was an early project in 2020, and in 2023 our long-time goal of placing “resting stumps” along that trail finally came to fruition.

We’re not just stump-placers, though—in other parks and lookouts we’ve installed resting benches beautifully crafted by woodworkers such as the prolific Jamie Doig, and a commemorative bench built by Dave Neads. The newest one, made by members of the Gabriola Woodworkers Guild, will soon be placed at Shaw Road beach access viewpoint.

Gabriola has no beaches that are accessible to those with mobility impairments, so changing that has been a goal since 2017. In 2023 we presented a proposal to the RDN that they meet this need by providing mobility-impaired access to the Descanso Bay day-use area beach at through the use of a retractable ramp and portable roll-up beach access mat. We’re happy to report that money has been allocated for a feasibility study next year.

A page from our presentation to the RDN, showing an artist’s mockup of what access might look like.

We’ve been able to build strong collaborative relationships with government agencies such as BC Parks, the RDN, and MoTI (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure) in the course of accessibility projects, and that has helped a lot with turning our visions into reality. We greatly appreciate their willingness to work with us, and we hope to do much more with them in the future.

GaLTT doesn’t have the resources to do it all alone, or to make everything perfect—but we can make it better, and that’s been our ongoing goal over the last years through projects large and small. You can read more about our work on our Accessibility page. If you want to support this work, there are lots of ways to help. Contact accessibility@galtt.ca to volunteer—we can find you a place whether it’s on a trail crew or behind the scenes. Or you can donate in various ways, including through CanadaHelps’ online system. General donations pay for all kinds of work, but you can designate monthly memberships or one-time donations to go to our Accessibility Fund, which helps pay for the costs of improvements.

There’s so much we can do together—we’ve just gotten started!

A man with a shovel stands watching a front-end loader spread gravel on a pathway liner in a park.
Trails committee chair Barry Moerkerken watches Randy Kopjar deposit a load of gravel during the Drumbeg work party.
A picnic table sits on a bluff above the ocean looking out over a beautiful view. The ground by the table is freshly graveled.
A much more accessible picnic table!

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