Wheelchair-friendly beach mats will be re-installed at Geraldton's Champion Bay Beach thanks to an agreement between the supplier and the local surf life saving club.
- The community was disappointed that mobility matting had been removed from Champion Bay Beach
- A new deal between the local surf club and the supplier means the mats will be available year round
- The City of Greater Geraldton welcomes the understanding between the organisations
The three-metre-long plastic mats were designed to help people with mobility issues access the ocean.
The mats were removed last weekend as the City of Greater Geraldton only leases them for four months over the warmer months from local disability inclusion charity Access to Leisure and Sport Inc (ATLAS).
It prompted calls from Champion Bay Surf Life Saving Club's Peter Nelson for the mats to be an all-year addition to the beach.
"I'm a person who swims here every day and I see how important the mats are for having access to the water. People have come to rely on the matting being there," he said.
"We believe everyone should be able to use the facility and beaches we have here in Geraldton."
Mats to stay
The mats are set to be put back out today, which ATLAS executive director Zane D'Mello said was a great outcome for the community.
"The mobility mats are specially designed for sandy surfaces for people with disability in mind first and foremost, but what we found through testing was that a range of people used them – especially the elderly who are not so steady on their feet."
It comes as a relief to Julie Furness, one the many keen Geraldton swimmers who participates in a daily 1km swim for fitness, mental health and social connection.
Ms Furness said the oldest regular swimmer was nearing 90 years old.
"The mats have been fantastic for some of the older folk who aren't so agile on their feet anymore," she said.
"It encourages more people to come down here and use the beach every day."
Peter Treharne, acting manager of community and cultural development at the City of Greater Geraldton, said the city was pleased to hear the two organisations had come to an agreement as the mats were expensive to maintain all year round.