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Donated Mobi Mats improve access to Colchester Beach



by Sylene Argent

Thanks to a generous donation, those with accessibility issues will likely no longer have to purchase expensive equipment to enjoy a day at the beach as the Town of Essex unveiled a pathway made of Mobi Mats on Wednesday, June 27.

  The mobile trail stretches from the driveway at Colchester Harbour to the beach, and includes a 200-foot pathway that is parallel to the shoreline.

  The family of the late David Watsa, who was a long-time member of the Colchester Harbour Committee and former resident of the area, purchased the Mobi Mats in his honour, which cost around $17,000.

  The Mobi Mats’ surface is designed to provide beach access for wheelchairs, strollers, and pedestrians with mobility issues.

  Councillor Sherry Bondy is a member of the Town’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, which is committed to ensuring the Municipality is accessible to all by reducing barriers to access of information or physical barriers at facilities.

  “We accomplish these goals by engaging the very people who face these barriers, the people who deal with the problems of access; barriers which are all too often unseen by the majority.”

  She was pleased to celebrate the removal of one of those barriers.

  “Colchester Beach is truly one of the Town’s greatest assets. It’s a must-see destination for visitors. It’s a place to kick back and relax on the beach. It’s a place to gather and enjoy the great outdoors as a community. This Mobi Mat means more people will have the opportunity to enjoy all that this beach has to offer.”

  Watsa, Bondy added, was a proud member of the community and was committed to the improvement of Colchester Harbour and Park. “This will be a part of his legacy. We know this mat will be put to good use for years to come and we are thrilled to make it part of our community.”

  Bondy and Essex Mayor Ron McDermott thanked the Watsa family for the generous donation.

  “To truly be called a destination, a place must be accessible to all,” McDermott said, adding the new accessibility feature was placed in one of the oldest communities in Canada. The harbour was recently re-certified with the Blue Flag designation.

  Watsa’s wife, Margaret, joined family members to unveil the plaque placed along the accessible pathway in recognition of the donation. She said she spent many happy years in Colchester with her family.

  “My husband and I lived here for 34 years,” she said, adding when they first moved to the area, they were warmly welcomed and developed many life-long friendships. She said her husband was a generous man, who would eventually struggle with his own mobility issues when he was diagnosed with a brain disease, Progressive supranuclear palsy, after the couple moved from the area to be closer to family.

  Margaret said he slipped away last October. “Our family believes as we are blessed, so should others be blessed.”

  Representatives from the offices of MP Tracey Ramsey and MPP Taras Natyshak presented the Watsa family with certificates of recognition.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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