Access Awareness Day is this Friday, and Access Smithers will be presenting to the public what they and their partners do at the Town office at Alfred Avenue and Aldous Street from 11:30 a.m.
The presentation is sponsored by Sparc BC.
One of the many projects being worked on is the upgrade to Willowvale Marsh, where the perimeter trail winds through the southwest end of Smithers.
“It’s been a very large project,” Access Smithers’ Glenys Snowdymond told Smithers council at its last meeting.
“It started because I went on a walk … one night, walking around the marsh, and I didn’t find a stump to sit on; and I thought, ‘hmm.’ I came back down to Smithers and said maybe we can get a bench there and this is what has evolved over time.”
The evolution includes purchasing five accessible benches last fall and one two-ended accessible picnic table, a land bridge to connect the two ends of the path, and assisting the Bulkley Valley Naturalists with planting 400 spruce seedlings.
“We hope to and plan to have things coordinated in completion by the end of this summer and in autumn, and we’re sensitive to the fact that there is environmental sensitivity to the potential nesting birds and habitat there currently,” Snowdymond told council.
More work includes upgrading the paths on the west end of the marsh, signs and plaques for donors and possibly putting a sixth bench. The bench may go by some green space off Ambleside Avenue at the northeast corner of the marsh, where Snowdymond said the only spot to look over the marsh exists by the path.
Council approved the upgrades in August 2015 after a presentation from Access Smithers.
Ambleside Park housing developer Jim Dobinson has been assisting the upgrades by providing earth fill for the land bridge and to upgrade drainage.
Seventeen donors have so far contributed, raising over $25,000.
The organization also still has $4,000 to grant for access improvements in town after giving $1,000 to the Friendship Centre to create signage to point people to the wheelchair ramp in the back.