New wheelchairs allow more people to enjoy Cannon Beach

Two wheelchairs will be available starting next week

Cannon Beach will soon offer beach wheelchairs for visitors, Sept. 28, 2017. (Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce)

CANNON BEACH, Ore. (KOIN) — Cannon Beach will soon give just about everyone access to its beach once it rolls out its beach-accessible wheelchairs.

Starting next week, the beach will have wheelchairs available for visitors with mobility challenges.

Pooka Rice, the outreach coordinator for the Haystack Rock Awareness Program in Cannon Beach, said she’s thrilled.

“It’s making our beach, which is free for everyone, free for everyone” Rice said. “It’s very exciting.”

The Cannon Beach Police Department will facilitate the free checkout and return process on the east side of the city hall building. They said chairs can be reserved ahead of time and guests can leave their existing wheelchairs with the department while they enjoy the beach.

Rice said it’s the same beach wheel chairs that they are using in California.

“People didn’t even know something like this existed,” said Dan Haag, the visitor’s center manager in nearby Manzanita. “And the next reaction is joy just to be able to get down to the beach.”

In Manzanita, Haag said they’ve been using free beach wheelchairs for about 10 years now.

“We’re happy that our partners up in Cannon Beach are providing this for people so when we don’t have them available we know where to send people,” Haag said.

Court Carrier, the executive director of the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce, hopes beach wheelchairs will be available all across Oregon.

“We know there’s a lot of other people that have begun doing this,” Carrier said, “and we hope to help spread this idea up and down the entire coast so that everyone makes it their mission to have an accessible beach.”

Currently Cannon beach has two wheelchairs, priced at $2,500 a piece. Both of them were funded through private donations. The goal is to have 4 or 5, along with specialized walkers, so more people can get up close and personal with Oregon’s coast.

Fundraising is currently underway for additional wheelchairs. Anyone interested in donating should contact the Haystack Rock Awareness Program at 503.436.8060 or the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce at 503.436.2623.