BARRHAVEN, July 13, 2022 – Chapman Mills Conservation Area needs a new, state-of-the-art accessible pedestrian bridge – and we hope its many visitors will help make it happen.
The current wooden bridge near the northern trailhead of Barrhaven’s most beloved boardwalk has reached the end of its life cycle. Over the years, the busy span has helped hundreds of thousands of visitors access the beautiful Rideau River from Chapman’s popular free-of-charge trail.
But the bridge has also presented several accessibility issues: it’s not wide enough for two people with wheelchairs or strollers to pass, for example, leaving one person to back up beside the path’s steep shorelines.
The narrow bridge also led to temporary park closures in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic because adequate physical distancing couldn’t be maintained – leaving many local residents without their go-to nature escape just when they needed it most.
Taking advantage of the bridge’s need for replacement, the Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation (RVCF) has launched a new fundraising campaign to ensure the new bridge is also built to the gold standard of accessibility standards – not just to legislated minimums.
“We believe strongly in building inclusive outdoor spaces that welcome the entire community, and we hope residents will support the project to help us get there,” said Diane Downey, executive director of the RVCF.
With help from renowned accessibility consultant Marnie Peters, staff from the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority have applied a metric of the world’s top outdoor accessibility policies to the new bridge design. This includes a wider deck, more gradual slopes, accessible sight lines and longer ramps.
Individuals can donate to the bridge campaign directly at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/73114. The Foundation is also actively securing grants and other funding, and welcomes corporate partnerships, sponsorships and donations in support of the project.
The Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation is a registered environmental charity working to help protect and conserve the lands and waters of the valley of the Rideau River in Eastern Ontario. For more information visit www.rvcf.ca.