The waters of Marathon Beach are now within reach for those with disabilities. The city of North Bay rolled out its first accessible beach mat this morning.

The mat is being named ‘Wheels to the Water’, a tribute of sorts to Adam Miller, an original advocate for the mat who passed away in 2016. Miller’s nickname was ‘wheels’.

“Every time I visit here, I’m going to take a drive here because I can feel Adam here,” says Wayne Miller, Adam’s father. “I can feel him saying ‘What do you think dad, what do you think?”

The mats are meant for people who need wheelchairs and those in need of extra assistance. After Miller passed, his friend Brian Biebault took over advocating for the addition to the beach.

“I would not be able to get direction to the water, other than hearing the waves, now I can just follow the mat along.”

Thanks to the mat, advocates say the city is taking steps to break down accessibility barriers.

“You can just get down to the beach and that’s a wonderful feeling and it’s taking away barriers,” says Dale Norton, a friend of Adam’s who used his wheelchair on the mat for the first time.

The mats came at a cost of $10,000, which was extra in the capital budget and set aside for the project. City councillor Joanne Brousseau is hoping to continue the steps they’ve taken so far to make the beach accessible for everyone.

 “I’ve already communicated with one of the ladies at the Alzheimer Society, they thought it would be great is to bring in a beach wheelchair all in PVC piping with big wheels so that we can actually go in the water.”

Bibeault is pleased with the addition and is hoping that the city continues to make strides elsewhere.

 “I know the city is working right now on audible crossings. We have over half of them done so far.”