By Mark Dreger
Being confined to a wheelchair has its challenges, but for Peachland resident Rob Roseberry, spending time at the lake will become much easier.
The Peachland Pier Group broke ground Saturday to announce the building of the Peachland Heritage Pier, a 400-foot long pier that will allow wheelchair access for the physically disabled to fish and enjoy the lakeshore.
“It’s beyond belief,” Roseberry said, sitting in his wheelchair near where the pier will be built. “It was a dream to us when we first sat down and had coffee and talked about it. And now, yes.”
The Peachland Heritage Pier is a joint project between the Peachland Rotary Club, the Lions Club, and the Peachland Sportsman’s Association to create an accessible place where handicapped people can go out onto the lake to fish, birdwatch, and enjoy the lake view.
“The project is going to be about 400 some odd feet long right along the foreshore, and it will be a boon to Peachland economically and every other way,” said Chris Boyle, Vice President of the Peachland Pier Society. “This enables [people with disabilities] to go out over the water and to fish, which is where the original idea came from.”
Roseberry, along with the Sportsman’s Association and other volunteers, helps Al Springer, the original concept-maker for the Pier Project, in getting people who are less-abled to participate in Peachland’s annual Fishing Forever event where fishers take to the lake to try to catch the biggest fish.
“It’s great seeing them out when they catch a fish. Seriously,” Roseberry said. “It doesn’t make their day, their week, it makes their month. It’s something that so many people look forward to here.”
For people like Roseberry, this new wheelchair-accessible pier is a dream come true for the disabled community.
“It’s outstanding that so many people could come together and put something like this together for such a selfless act,” Roseberry said. “What can I say? I am in awe.”
According to the Peachland Pier Project website, $343,454 of the $440,000 goal has been raised. MLA Dan Ashton presented a $200,000 cheque from the Province of British Columbia to help the funding of the project in addition to $10,000 seeded from the three founding groups.
Other donors for the project include Shoreline Pile Driving & Boat Lifts, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, The Rick Hansen Foundation, Central Okanagan Foundation, Gorman Bros Lumber LTD, Structurlam, and Tolko Log Haulers. The group is still taking donations in hopes of fulfilling their goal.
“I doubt you will see a day in the upcoming years where there isn’t at least ten people on it fishing or taking part in ornithology, just taking in the beautiful place that we have. It’s sacred to so many people, those that actually have the pleasure to call this home. It is truly an outstanding place.”
According to the sign in Heritage Park, the Pier will have nine bays and three wheelchair accessible ramps with some 27 stainless steel plaques telling some of the many stories of the Okanagan, like the lake, the First Nations, early settlers, the orchards, and the wineries that followed.
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