Do you share our vision for Baxter Conservation Area?
Imagine: it’s mid-morning on a warm spring day. You follow a wide-planked boardwalk through the sun-streaked forest. Migrating warblers send trills through the treetops and carpets of blossoms decorate the forest floor. Look up and you may find a porcupine peering back at you, or, if you’re lucky, a shy barred owl. Passing through dappled sunlight and cedar-scented shadow, the trail leads to a long bridge. There, the marshlands overtake your senses: cattails bowing to the gentle wind, turtles plunking off their sunbaked logs; red-winged blackbirds sending warnings from their reedy watchtowers. The Rideau River laps at the bridge’s feet while the blossoming sun warms your chest and fills your soul.
Welcome to Baxter: a gateway to nature for all.
The outdoors should be accessible to anyone who wants to enjoy it: plain and simple. Being in nature is good for body and soul, but people with disabilities are disproportionately excluded from outdoor spaces because they’re inaccessible, unsafe or both.
We want to make Baxter Eastern Ontario’s accessible wilderness haven, with gold-standard accessibility features throughout the park.
This includes five kilometres of permanent boardwalks and graded stone-dust trails through mixed forest, marshland and Rideau River shoreline; a safe and sturdy bridge over the marsh with viewing platforms for our visitors and outdoor education programs; accessibility upgrades to our interpretive centre and other facilities such as washrooms and change huts; and improved spots to rest and enjoy the views.
The new and improved trails will be wide enough for two people using wheelchairs, walkers or strollers to pass with ease. Gentle slopes and grading will allow for easy movement without concern for steep hills or ruts. The bridge and its platforms will be sturdy and wide enough to accommodate an entire group of people in wheelchairs at once – no waiting in line or backing up to let others pass.
These upgrades will allow us to welcome people of all ages and abilities safely and comfortably to our park, including (but not limited to):
- People with physical or intellectual disabilities
- Seniors with mobility concerns
- Students and special education classes
- Groups from local day programs, assisted living facilities and long-term care homes.
How we’ll do it:
Nature For All is a multi-phase project that will take several years to complete. Community support, fundraising campaigns, political and charitable support and awareness of our project will be crucial to bringing our vision to life.
Phase 1: Bridge and Boardwalk (2021 – 2022)
Phase 1 is underway and will focus on replacing the existing boardwalk and bridge, which are at the end of their life cycles and meet only the minimum accessibility requirements under provincial law. The bridge in particular has been closed for safety reasons since 2019 and will not reopen until it has been replaced. Our goal is to raise $1 MILLION toward the bridge and boardwalk replacement by the end of 2021!
Phase 2: Facility upgrades (2022 – 2023)
Phase 2 will focus on bringing our facilities up to the gold-standard of accessibility. This includes the Patrick J. McManus Interpretive Centre, our outdoor education buildings as well as our washroom and change hut facilities at the beach.
If you believe in Nature For All, please donate today – and encourage others to do the same!
“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.”
– John Muir –