New Brunswick’s largest beach will once again be open to the public starting Friday and visitors to Parlee Beach Provincial Park will notice some changes that include improved access for those with disabilities.
“We have been lobbying for years now to make the entire province accessible,” said Mathieu Stever, the manager of the ParaNB program with Ability New Brunswick
The provincial park is getting a $2-million facelift in advance of its second season in operation amid the pandemic. According to the province, funding for the upgrades is being applied from the capital improvement budgets from 2020 to 2022.
The work includes upgrades to roads, entrances, the canteen, restaurant bar and patio area as well as improved access to the beach, according to the park’s manager, Michel Mallet, who said they partnered with Ability NB on the project starting in 2019.
“We call it a comfort station, which is basically an accessible washroom and accessible charging room and shower outside,” said Mallet.
Improved sidewalks and beach-friendly wheelchairs will also be available for visitors, said Mallet.
He said an accessible playground is also being installed in the coming weeks. The hope is to have the upgrades ready by the end of the school year, he said.
“I think it is great having Parlee Beach set the example of how you can renovate the beach and make it accessible for everyone because our motto is that everyone plays,” said Stever.
Stever said he hopes the initiative will encourage other provincial parks in the province to do similar upgrades.
“It is everyone’s right to be able to access all recreation activities in the province”, he said.
Parlee Beach opens on Friday with COVID-19 protocols similar to last year, said Mallet.
All changing rooms and showers, even the accessible ones, will remain closed for now, he said. All washrooms will be open when the park officially opens on Friday
Access to the provincial beach for vacationers from outside of the province will also depend on the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions.