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Tears of joy for new accessibility features for new Prospect Park Dock

Accessibility features in Prospect Park waterfront revitalization will benefit many more users

Work continues on the new and improved dock at Fairy Lake in Acton, with the handrails that have been fitted to the accessible ramp down to the water’s edge in early 2018. An accessible launch feature may still be included – and the public can help.

Paddlers and anglers have watched progress on the re-fit in the fall with much anticipation.

Gone are the broken boardwalk, uneven asphalt, and stairs. These have been replaced by a dock that extends further into the water, and has spots for at least 10 small boats to tie up. There are also a couple of picturesque public viewing benches.

Directly off the parking lot, there are some nice landscaping features such as tree plantings and big rocks. Users have two ways to get down to the water: a set of steps, as well as a sloped concrete path with guide rails, making it safe for personal scooters or a family pushing a wheelchair. Decking is level with the boathouse that’s become known as the Holy Cow Canoe Rental Outpost, after the area business that has run canoe rentals at Fairy Lake for the past 5 years. Husband and wife team Gulam Baloch and Naomi McQuade own the Holy Cow Canoe Company, with its factory now located just outside of Guelph. McQuade has a long family history with paddle sports. As well, she has been an active supporter of research and information sharing about Lyme Disease. With this background, it’s no surprise that McQuade is a tireless advocate for getting people of all ability levels out on the water.

After watching one family struggle with the conclusion that they would have to leave a wheelchair-bound family member on the shore while they went out in a boat rental, McQuade knew she had to act. She initiated talks with the Town of Halton Hills to improve the dock so that no one would ever have to be left behind again.

Of the new and improved waterfront, McQuade says: “The new Fairy Lake dock brings us tears of joy, a much needed change that fosters inclusiveness and accessibility for all those who enjoy the water and the outdoors.”

One more element has yet to fall into place on the dock enhancement, and that is the addition of an accessible launch feature. Picture a type of chute that stabilizes a kayak or canoe, thereby making it easier for a wider range of users to enter and exit a small craft: families with young children, seniors, folks with back, hip or knee pain, folks with mild to medium mobility challenges.

The town will be seeking funding assistance for this feature from its Accessibility Committee, which meets next at the end of March. Feedback from residents and users before this date will help to demonstrate need and support for this feature. To give feedback, send a “Yes please” email to town architect Mark Taylor: .


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