CTV News Vancouver Island
Updated Nov. 4, 2022
Hitting the beaches in Tofino, B.C., has gotten easier for those with mobility issues thanks to new beach wheelchairs that the region is offering guests.
The chairs assemble in minutes and are stored in transportation bags that you can toss into your vehicle.
The chairs are loaned out for free for up to three days when you provide a deposit, and they’re providing access to beaches and trails where it wasn’t previously available.
“We actually had one woman who hasn’t been out on the beach with her husband for years, just because of accessibility issues of getting out on the beach,” said Jody Kirk, Tofino Tourism visitor and member service manager.
“So it’s really been incredible that people can just come out here and spend time with their loved ones and so much more time [outdoors],” she said.
Information on borrowing the mobility chairs, and on other accessibility tips in Tofino, can be found on the community’s new online accessibility guide.
It’s one of eight accessibility guides that launched in various communities on Vancouver Island last week.
“Each of the guides was put in place to help educate people on opportunities that exist in each of these communities and look for ways for people to experience this region with a bit more of a lens on equity,” said Brian Cant, vice president of business impact and engagement for 4VI (formerly known as Tourism Vancouver Island).
The new guides are the first of 17 that are expected to launch in island communities, highlighting businesses and locations that are welcoming for all ages and accessibility levels.
“For example, if you need to access a beach, there are specific beach-type wheelchairs for those that need them,” said Cant.
“But then if you were a senior citizen and visually impaired or hard of hearing, there are things you’d want to consider as well,” he said.
The project took 10 months to complete and is a joint effort of various groups, including Spinal Cord Injury BC and Destination British Columbia.
“I think [the guide] identifies a group of people who have long been overlooked and are obviously valued as part of society,” said Cant.
“There are so many people who are looking for opportunities to explore locations and technology has allowed for adaptability and inclusiveness,” he said.
In Tofino, Kirk says the new mobility chairs have been a hit since they were first introduced.
“We have two of them and they were out almost every day this summer,” she said.
“It’s slowed down a bit now, maybe weather dependent,” she said. “You can still get out here, we have had people use it in the rain, you can put on a raincoat.”
The eight accessibility guides that have been released so far can be found on the 4VI website at https://vancouverisland.travel/2022/11/03/accessible-travel-guides/ (opens in new window/tab).