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HomeNewsKirby's Beach Park now fully accessible with opening of new playground

Kirby’s Beach Park now fully accessible with opening of new playground

The Evelyn “Bessie” Shier Memorial Playground at Kirby’s Beach Park in Bracebridge is officially open.

ABC Recreation Ltd. took on the project at 1010 Kirby’s Beach Rd. The town received $60,000 through the Ministry for Seniors and Acessbility’s Inclusive Community Grant Program while the remaining $270,000 was paid for by the town.

Bracebridge Mayor Rick Maloney (centre) flanked by the town’s Chief Administrative Officer Stephen Rettie (left) and Coun. Archie Buie (right) (Photo credit: Mathew Reisler)

It’s an inclusive playground, explains Jill Harris, Bracebridge’s Economic Development Officer. “This park is a vision of the town’s Accessibility Advisory Committee,” she says.

She explains it has a rubberized surface allowing for people of all walking abilities to use the playground, a play structure suitable for kids between the ages of one-and-a-half and 12 years old, a rope net tower with a slide, swing sets, and a shade structure over the main play structure. 

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There is also a we-go-round which, unlike other versions, can be powered from the inside by those sitting on it. Harris adds it also has room for someone in a wheelchair. According to Harris, Kirby’s Beach Park is the first site in Ontario to include a we-go-round.

The playground, Harris says, is the “finishing touch” on making the park fully accessible. 

It comes seven years after accessible picnic tables along with a walkway to them were installed. A mobi-mat was installed two years later leading to the walkway, which Harris explains allows people with walking disabilities to get to the waterfront.

“This is just another piece of the puzzle that we’ve been working on for Kirby’s beach for quite some time,” says Bracebridge Mayor Rick Maloney. “To include accessibility features to include folks of all abilities, young and old, to enjoy an inclusive playground that allows them to be active with their peers and feel supported.”

Soon after the park was opened, a boy had a blast trying out its many features (Photo credit: Mathew Reisler)

Maloney explains that the park is named in honour of the late “Bessie” Shier who was one of the founding members of the Kinette Club of Bracebridge. In the early 1970s, they donated playground equipment and, in return, they asked to name the park.

Members of the Shier family attended the ceremony and helped cut the ribbon to open the park. “To have the Shier family here to enjoy this significant opening of the park is just absolutely wonderful,” Maloney says.

“It’s a continuing effort,” he continues on making town facilities open and accessible for all. “Whether it be parks, beaches, municipal arenas, libraries, even walking down our main street, we always look through the lens of accessibility and ensure that everyone feels they can enjoy our community and not have barriers in front of them.”

“It’s somewhat that we have to do,” Maloney says. “We have to look through that lens.”

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