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Fishing area improvements to begin in Glace Bay

Members of the Port Morien Wildlife Association were on site at the proposed wheelchair accessible fishing area at Glace Bay’s John Bernard Croak Memorial Park on Monday. Work began at the site on Tuesday. Left to right, member Brian McNeil, association president Jeff McNeil and treasurer Stan Peach. ELIZABETH PATTERSON • CAPE BRETON POST
Members of the Port Morien Wildlife Association were on site at the proposed wheelchair accessible fishing area at Glace Bay’s John Bernard Croak Memorial Park on Monday. Work began at the site on Tuesday. Left to right, member Brian McNeil, association president Jeff McNeil and treasurer Stan Peach. ELIZABETH PATTERSON • CAPE BRETON POST
GLACE BAY, N.S. —

Improvements at John Bernard Croak Memorial Park will allow fishing to become more accessible to those with disabilities.

The Glace Bay project, backed by the Port Morien Wildlife Association, will see the construction of a barrier-free fishing area that will allow up to five people in wheelchairs or walkers to fish at one time.

Construction began Tuesday and is expected to be completed in two to five weeks.

For Jeff McNeil, president of the association, it’s good news that nearly didn’t happen.

“All of our fundraising that we do each year went by the wayside because we couldn’t hold any of the events because of COVID,” said McNeil on Monday. “It was challenging to get it to this point and I’ll be quite honest about it ... we had one week left before our organization was ready to scrap the project before funding started to come through … We were saying this is impossible, we’re not going to be able to pull this off and lo and behold, we ended up sourcing enough funding.”

Jeff McNeil, president of the Port Morien Wildlife Association, looks over plans for the wheelchair accessible fishing area at John Bernard Croak Memorial Park in Glace Bay. ELIZABETH PATTERSON • CAPE BRETON POST
Jeff McNeil, president of the Port Morien Wildlife Association, looks over plans for the wheelchair accessible fishing area at John Bernard Croak Memorial Park in Glace Bay. ELIZABETH PATTERSON • CAPE BRETON POST

 

The project will receive $41,568 from the province’s Community Access-Ability Grants delivered by the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage. Anglers contributed about $12,500 through the Nova Scotia Sportfish Fund and various community groups, unions and local businesses contributed the rest. Even so, they’re still a little short but McNeil is hopeful enough additional funding will come in eventually.

“We’re short about $6,000 to get everything … but we’re hoping that some corporate sponsor or some local businesses will reach out to us and try to accommodate the latest little hurdle we have there so we can have it finished and go from there.”

McNeil credits disability rights activist Marcie Schwery-Stanley for helping get the money needed to go ahead with the project.

“She was tremendous — her input went a long way with guidance for us.”

This is the proposed access deck for a barrier-free fishing area at the John Bernard Croak Memorial Park in Glace Bay. CONTRIBUTED
This is the proposed access deck for a barrier-free fishing area at the John Bernard Croak Memorial Park in Glace Bay. CONTRIBUTED

 

Northern Contracting Ltd. of Sydney Mines has been awarded the construction contract as the lowest bidder. The project will involve laying the groundwork and pouring the concrete for an access platform that will include the installation of a handrail around the platform deck.

McNeil hopes the work will be completed before winter hits with full impact.

“That will give us a location there for five people to fish freely,” said McNeil.

Ironically, although the project was delayed by COVID-19, even before the pandemic struck, design blueprints called for everything spaced six feet apart, said McNeil.

The completed project will allow anybody with a disability to go and enjoy a day of fishing and not have to worry about problems that might occur when they’re fishing, whether they’re in a wheelchair or using a walker. The project will include a designated parking area with signage, an access platform with handrails, improvements to the path leading to the platform and an area for a barrier-free picnic table.

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