New beach mats at the Baxter Conservation Area in Kars are making it easier for people in wheelchairs, walkers, and strollers to access the Rideau River. 

Conservation Lands Manager Chelsey Ellis says the mats are intended to make the conservation area more inclusive.

“We’re really committed to providing equal access to nature and the Rideau waterway,” Ellis said. “So, it’s a huge priority to make sure people of all abilities can access both.” 

The mats, made by Mobi-Mats, are part of several accessibility upgrades recently introduced or in the works at RVCA properties. 

Earlier this winter, Ellis says they purchased a set of accessible sleds to help students with special needs participate in its outdoor education programs. 

She says the mats span the entire beach, extending several feet into the water, allowing a wheelchair user to go for a dip if they choose.

“We’ve created a gravel stone dust walkway directly from the parking lot and then it’s a straight shot onto the mat,” Ellis said. “So, everything is all nice and straight. And the mat is a gradual slope down the beach to the water.” 

Ellis adds these additions have helped make Baxter one of Eastern Ontario’s most accessible wilderness havens.