When GaLTT first started working to improve accessibility our focus was entirely on getting people with mobility difficulties to the beach (still a significant goal!), but our 2019 survey of Gabriolans’ experience of accessibility revealed that the issue was not just beach access and people using wheelchairs and walkers. Many people have difficulty navigating our forest trails, including those with fear of falling and sensory impairments, people with balance and strength limitations (including those due to age or injury) and young parents with children in strollers or carrying loads. Those of us with these issues may need wide accesses, smoother, flatter trails, and places to rest periodically.

At that time our largest park, 707 Community Park, had no trails that met these requirements, and all our flattish trail loops were too long for the mobility-impaired to manage. Our first task was to get at least one easy entry to a reasonably flat walking trail, so GaLTT worked with RDN Parks to remove the berm at the Jeanette Avenue entrance, flattening and widening the access path around the yellow gate. This greatly improved access to the nice level trail to a big maple tree, but there was no place to rest there or along the way.

The photo shows a beautifully crafted wooden bench below the spreading arms of a huge maple. It's winter, so the branches are bare of leaves but their debris litters the forest floor.
The ultimate goal: Jamie Doig’s resting bench

At Tom Cameron’s suggestion our volunteers informally placed several unmarked sawn-off tree stumps along the trail to sit on, but they were quickly stolen, which was a bit discouraging. Skilled woodworker Jamie Doig volunteered to build us a very beautiful resting bench from wood donated by the Camerons, which GaLTT installed solidly near the destination maple tree. Jamie has since built several more very lovely benches installed throughout our park system.

Reaching the bench still required a there-and-back walk of 2 kilometres, so to really improve accessibility, we needed to try again to create resting places. It took a while, but the RDN eventually granted GaLTT $500 to purchase the needed gravel to level some areas for more firmly attached stumps. Peter Danenhower donated six new stumps, and Sarah Kopjar stenciled GaLTT’s name and logo on them. Seven damp volunteers worked in the rain to install the resting stumps, which have been varnished for protection. They are spaced no more than 160m apart along the first kilometre of the Jeanette trail from the yellow gate to the bench under the beautiful maple tree, providing a more accessible option for those who want just a short jaunt or something a little bit longer. The stumps are placed well back from the trail so that emergency vehicles can get through. Thanks to all our marvellous volunteers. Stroll and rest awhile as you go!

A woman with a rake stands next to a man sitting on a stump. Both are smiling.

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