INVERNESS: The Inverness Development Association (IDA) was given provincial-level recognition for making trips to the beach possible for folks with disabilities, seniors, and anyone else with mobility issues.
The association was given a Human Rights Award during a ceremony at the Halifax Central Library on December 10. In specific, the IDA was given props for the Inverness Beach Boardwalk renewal initiative.
“It’s all about the inclusion and accessibility at the Inverness beach and along the boardwalk,” said Rose Mary MacDonald, IDA vice-president. “The project was large in scope, and it helped shine the light on accessibility.”
The Inverness Beach Boardwalk Project, which saw the IDA partner with the Inverness County Accessibility Committee, was completed last summer. The boardwalk was officially reopened on July 23.
A number of upgrades to the boardwalk were made, including upgrades to the washroom and shower facilities, modification to make parking easier, and safety measures.
Most notably, ramps were installed allowing people on the boardwalk to access the beach. Due to the inclusion of Mobi-Mats, people in wheelchairs can roll directly onto the sand. With that, walkers and beach chairs allow people with disabilities access to the water. The revamp was estimated to have cost in the ballpark of $360,000.
Serving as the driving force behind the project were MacDonald and Callum MacQuarrie, a co-chair of the Inverness County Accessibility Committee.
“It took a lot of work and a lot of planning to make it as accessible as we could,” MacDonald said. “We are the most accessible beach in Atlantic Canada, and that’s why we were nominated.”
Spirits were high during the July opening, MacDonald said, and the same could be said of the recent award presentation.
“We’re so proud,” MacDonald said. “Some seniors hadn’t been on the beach in 40 years, and they were crying when they were able to – which made us cry. People are certainly using it.”
In addition to the IDA and volunteers, D.J. MacLean and Sons Contracting donated time and manpower to get the renovations done, Freeman’s Pharmacy donated a defibrillator in memory of Jeanette MacKinnon, and Cabot Links provided labour and support.
“Human rights work is community strengthening work,” said Christine Hanson, director and CEO of the Commission. “Recipients of today’s awards exemplify the characteristics of true leaders working tirelessly to strengthen and empower the communities they live in, belong to and care for.
“The deserving recipients of this year’s awards act as a reminder that the work of strengthening human rights in Nova Scotia is a responsibility we all share,” said Hanson. “The commission is committed to supporting the good work of citizens. We are grateful for their dedication to the work of making Nova Scotia a more inclusive and equitable place to live.”
Each year, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission recognizes Nova Scotians nominated by their peers for work in the field of human rights, social justice and advocacy.