Doug Blessin, a Paralympic athlete, has no problem casting his fishing line quite a distance into the Fraser River in search of hungry fish. He does, however, face a challenge that other anglers don’t.
“Because of my upper body strength, I can cast farther than most people,” says Blessin, who uses a wheelchair. “But a lot of fishing on the Fraser is catch-and-release. I can’t be tossing a fish 100 metres back into the water. I need to be able to return the fish properly and gently.”
Now Blessin – and other anglers with reduced mobility – are able to follow their passion and fish at Derby Reach Regional Park in Langley thanks to the creation of an accessible fishing ramp built with the support of the Pacific Parklands Foundation.
The accessible fishing ramp is the latest addition to facilities in the park that make it easier for those using wheelchairs to experience the outdoors. Derby Reach Regional Park already boasts accessible washrooms, picnic shelters, trails, campsites, and an off-leash dog area.
Blessin, who was involved in the ramp design, says, “I cannot wait to try it out with my twin boys and introduce them to fishing, conservation and the great outdoors.”