New Dock to Enhance River Access for Kayakers in St. Marys

Accessibility features designed for easy and safe access for paddlers with mobility issues StratfordToday Staff
June 6, 2024

More people can now access the Thames River in St. Marys, thanks to a Government of Canada investment, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), and a generous community donation.

This week, the Town installed a new, accessible dock in a section of the river near the north end of Milt Dunnell Field.

The need for an accessible dock was noted by residents and visitors during a survey the Town conducted about revitalizing Milt Dunnell Field. River usage has increased significantly since 2020 and following the launch of the Town’s free kayak loan program, but the lack of an accessible dock remained a barrier for those with mobility issues.

The new dock has several features designed to facilitate easy and safe access for paddlers. These include a stable and secure platform, a kayak launch assist mechanism, handrails, grab bars and transfer benches, which allow paddlers to move safely from a wheelchair or the dock to their kayak.

The placement of the dock was approved by the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, with the condition that it be removed in the off season and any time there is a risk of flooding. The cost is being covered through a donation from Community Living St. Marys & Area and a $250,000-non-repayable contribution from FedDev Ontario.

“The dock is a wonderful addition to our community that will significantly improve access to the Thames,” says Mayor Al Strathdee. “We are grateful for the support from Community Living, the Government of Canada and the Upper Thames Conservation Authority.”

The addition of the dock is just one part of a project to enhance Milt Dunnell Field. Other improvements include paving the parking lot, adding new accessible washrooms, and revitalizing the lawn bowling building and playing field.

Questions about the new dock can be directed to Kelly Deeks-Johnson, Tourism and Economic Development Manager at 519-284-2340, ext. 272 or kdeeks@town.stmarys.on.ca. Additional information about accessing the river and the Town’s kayak rental program can be found at www.discoverstmarys.ca.

Original at https://www.stratfordtoday.ca/local-news/new-dock-to-enhance-river-access-for-kayakers-in-st-marys-8968042