A plan to create a network of easy-access vantage points for the handicapped to enjoy Tauranga's sea views has been launched by former TV personality and newsreader Tom Bradley.
The Beaches for Everyone project was promoted to city councillors yesterday during public submissions on the draft 2017-18 Annual Plan.
Mr Bradley, who read the news for 25 years, said he was building on the success last year of the construction of the disability-friendly viewing platform on Karewa Parade, Papamoa.
Speaking on behalf of Western Bay's Disabled Person's Assembly, he said getting close to the ocean was a mission.
"Let's put our heads together and look at access points up and down the coastline."
Some of the car parks and accesses needed little work to remove impediments to viewing for the disabled.
"There is a whole bunch of 'almost ready' that could, with a little bit of creative thinking, be made accessible for everyone...let's marshall our resources to build on what is already there."
Mr Bradley, who is disabled, cited the beach walkway on Maranui St, opposite Pacific Coast Village. "That would be a great place to put a viewing spot."
He urged the council to do the most doable and least expensive first, starting with a bus tour of beach accesses by councillors, council staff and disabled people.
Councillor Leanne Brown backed the initiative, saying a taskforce should be established to advance Beaches for Everyone.
Mr Bradley said he wanted Tauranga to become the most accessible and inclusive city for the disabled in New Zealand.
Disabled Persons Assembly president Kevin Edkins said 28 per cent of Tauranga residents had a disability. Thirty per cent of the population were older people - a demographic that included the largest percentage of people with disabilities.
He said this was predicted to increase as baby boomers got older and because Tauranga was a desirable retirement destination.
"Our goal is to provide Tauranga citizens, including those with mobility needs and disabilities, year-round enjoyment of their local beach, not only by improving access but by giving everyone the opportunity to view our magnificent coast - a chance to literally see the sea."
Paul Curry of the Disability Advisory Group highlighted how cruise ships were a popular way for disabled people to see the world. Based on a conservative estimate that 5 per cent of passengers had a disability, nearly 7700 of the 153,800 passengers who visited the area in 2016-17 were disabled.
"Tauranga has a unique opportunity to be a destination for people with disabilities.''
He urged the council and Tourism Bay of Plenty to make the planned visitor information centre at Mount Maunganui an "exemplar for access and inclusion" by championing universal design principles.
Universal design meant developing places and spaces that could be used and enjoyed by as many people as possible, Mr Curry said.
Local initiatives under way included Wish for Fish fundraising for a fully accessible fishing boat.
Potential beach viewing locations for disabled
- Hart St, Mount Maunganui
- Taylor's Reserve boat access, Papamoa
- Papamoa Domain carpark
- Harrison's Cut, Papamoa
- Omanu Surf Club
- Tay St, Mount Maunganui
- Cutters Cove, Mount Maunganui
- Sunbrae Grove, Arataki