Help for White Rock pier accessibility may be coming

White Rock has applied for SPARC BC grant for matting
Grant money may be on the way for accessibility matting for White Rock Pier. (Photo Tricia Weel)

Financial help for installing accessibility matting on the White Rock’s pier may be on the way.

On May 23, City of White Rock CAO Guillermo Ferrero confirmed that the city was submitting a grant request to the Social Planning and Review Council of B.C. (SPARC BC), which could fund up to $25,000 of the projected $115,000 cost of procuring and installing the matting.

Later that day, the Equal Access Coalition’s Susan Bains and Coun. Ernie Klassen (who, as a private citizen and parent of a person with disabilities, is a member of the city’s accessibility advisory committee) received confirmation from Louise O’Shea, SPARC BC’s chief operational officer, that the grant application had been received.

While the amount of the grant was not discussed, Bains said O’Shea had confirmed that SPARC BC “is rushing this application off along with all the support letters and confirmed that the City of White Rock should have a cheque by next week.”

Meanwhile, at council’s May 27 meeting, Mayor Megan Knight announced that the city would be accepting a contribution from the Uniti-sponsored Self Advocates of Semiahmoo – which includes, and represents, many with disabilities in the community – toward installation of the accessibility matting.

The funding commitment, some $5,750, anticipates total proceeds from a Self-Advocates’ sale of secondhand clothing, which will be held June 22.

Also at the same meeting, Knight accepted a notice of motion from Coun. Christopher Trevelyan to reconsider council’s May 13 decision concerning the accessibility matting, for discussion at the next council meeting (June 10).

“You’ve got two more weeks to work on getting some more grants and money coming in – that’s great,” Knight said.

READ ALSO: White Rock pier rally to raise awareness

At the May 13 meeting, a majority of councillors had declined to approve up to $115,000 in funding right away, as had been recommended by the accessibility advisory committee.

Instead council had voted to direct staff to continue researching grant opportunities for pier accessibility improvements and to include a funding request for consideration during the city’s 2025 financial plan discussions.

Only contrary votes had come from Klassen and Coun. Christopher Trevelyan, both of whom had argued that the city should fund the accessibility upgrade immediately.

Ferrero told Peace Arch News last week he could not give a precise timeline for installation of the matting.

“I’m not saying it’s going to be 2024 or 2025,” he said.

“It could happen fairly quickly — we don’t know,” he said, adding that following council’s instruction to research and apply for grants, other funding will be pursued.

“If grants are there, we want to take advantage of them,” he said.

He also noted there are other factors that could determine how soon the matting could be installed.

“Probably, like everything else, we’ll have to go through a procurement process,” he said, adding that the matting would likely have to be custom manufactured to fit the length of the pier and to meet other specifications.

(Editor’s note: an earlier story on the accessibility matting had incorrectly identified Klassen as chair of the accessibility advisory committee.)

Alex Browne

About the Author: Alex Browne

Alex Browne is a longtime reporter for the Peace Arch News, with particular expertise in arts and entertainment reporting and theatre and music reviews.
Read more