A series of steps proposed to be built as part of a scenic coastal pathway north of Ballina will be removed to allow easier access for people with disabilities, the elderly, and mums with prams.
Ballina Shire councillors last week amended a previous decision approving trialling the use of gravel and the steps for the section of the Coastal Recreational Path from Sharpes Beach underpass to Boulder Beach, removing the proposed steps which had sparked a community outcry.
Local resident Kerry Moran, who uses a walking frame with wheels, had appealed to councillors to get rid of the steps because she said they made the path inaccessible for people with a disability to use the pathway.
‘Myself and friends, some also with a disability, would love to use that path but the steps make it too hard for us to do so,’ Ms Moran said.
She said disabled people suffered from isolation and they wanted to use such pathways to ‘connect with nature’ and for health reasons as the ‘seascape was soul food’.
Greens Cr Jeff Johnson, who opposed removing the steps, said the route of the pathway in that section was very steep and steps were needed for safety and to prevent erosion.
Cr Johnson said many parts of the coastal pathway were already extremely eroded and that eventually handrails and steps would be needed on the steep sections, which in places had a gradient of up to 25 degrees.
Cr Sharon Cadwallader said she would like to see many people use the trail but didn’t want to see ‘handrails all over the headland’.
The building of steel handrails on the scenic coastal pathway section at Lennox Head recently sparked an outcry from locals who said the structure ruined the natural look of the headland.
But a move spearheaded by Cr Johnson to have the handrail removed was shot down.
‘This council is obsessed with access to all areas, but for people in wheelchairs a 25-degree gradient is prohibitive anyway,’ he said.