Wheelchair ramp at Brackley Beach PEI goes 18 feet into the air, too high and too hard for people in wheelchairs
Parks Canada has spent $500,000 on a wheelchair ramp at the PEI National Park that is not usable by people in wheelchairs. Encouraged by the story on CBC Compass PEI beach is now wheelchair accessible. we went to Brackley Beach to try it out.
The ramp is simply not designed with wheelchair users in mind. The ramp forces the person with the disability to push themselves up a steep and difficult 18 foot climb before descending to the beach. Parks Canada could have made the beach accessible at less than 25% of the cost by simply putting the ramp through the break in the dunes.
Once at the bottom of the long ramp, there are no beach wheelchairs and no platform to leave the wheelchair you came on. Apparently, you have to call ahead to get the beach wheelchair delivered. Parks Canada should have stored the beach wheelchairs on the beach where there are needed. (Video after the story break)
When your time on the beach is over, you must push yourself 18 feet into the air along 250 feet of wooden ramps. Most people with disabilities will find that an impossible and punishing task.
Parks Canada used the government architects in designing the structure, according to Charlene Caisse. They did not get any advice from people who use wheelchairs, otherwise they would have built something entirely different and easier for them to use.
Accessible means that the device is usable. We declare this wheelchair ramp unusable except for wheelchair athletes.
In building the ramp, the engineers or architects no doubt relied on the National Building code that says ramps must have a slope not exceeding 12 inches of ramp for every 1 inch rise. The NBC does not allow ramps to be 18 feet high. Elevators are used of that height. It is the equivalent of asking a person in a wheelchair to climb over a 2 story building.
For long ramps the rise should be more gentle something better than 24 inches of ramp for every 1 inch of rise. The beach at Stanhope has the proper ramping for the part on the ground.
In a telephone interview, Parks Canada did say they would adjust the ramp to make it accessible. We trust they will do that with some expert help this time and try not to waste taxpayers money.