June 20, 2024

Accessible Bridge Officially Opens at Baxter Conservation Area

KARS-ON-THE-RIDEAU – June 21, 2024 – Dignitaries, donors, and special guests joined staff and board members from the Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation (RVCF) and Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) to celebrate the Baxter Conservation Area’s flagship accessible bridge’s grand opening on Friday, June 21.

The 100-metre accessible bridge and two large education platforms embrace the gold standards of accessible design, including a 10-foot-wide deck, appropriate sight-lines for people in wheelchairs and strollers, gentle slopes, handrails and benches. 

The impressive span was made possible with generous support from the  Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), and the City of Ottawa’s Rural Community-Building Grant, as well as in-kind and financial support from the RVCF, RVCA, and their generous donors. 

“Accessibility improvements to this area and two new educational platforms will make this beautiful green space a safe and welcoming destination for all to enjoy,” the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister responsible for FedDev Ontario wrote in a prepared statement. “The Government of Canada is happy to have supported the Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation.”

Rideau-Jock Councillor David Brown thanked the Nature For All committee, which brought its grand vision of an accessible nature destination to the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority and its Foundation six years ago. Brown also recognized the hard work of the many RVCA and RVCF staff, volunteers and board members who have helped turn this vision into reality.

“This project was not easy,” Councillor Brown said. “What we’re looking at today really shows that hard work, the dedication and the consistent pressure to make life better out here for everyone of all ages and abilities.”

In total, Baxter’s accessible bridge project garnered more than $800,000 in support, including donations from 100 Women Who Care, 1st Greely Cubs, Fjällräven, FedEx Canada, Girl Gone Good, and The Gosling Foundation. The RVCA also contributed from its capital infrastructure funds.

“Each year, Baxter welcomes thousands of visitors and more than 4,000 students to its facilities to enjoy the trails, beach and outdoor education programming,” said RVCA Chair Kristin Strackerjan. “The new bridge will help visitors of all abilities enjoy an enhanced outdoor experience while taking advantage of the many physical and mental health benefits that go with it.”

The previous bridge was at the end of its life cycle and was closed for safety reasons in 2019. Cue Mike Nemesvary, an accessibility advocate located in Manotick who has been visiting Baxter Conservation Area in his power wheelchair for more than 20 years. An athlete and adventurist, Nemesvary had long dreamed of transforming Baxter into an accessible nature haven for people of all abilities. Working with the RVCA and RVCF, he founded the local Nature For All committee to bring his vision to life.

"My partner Maryann and I have been continual visitors to Baxter, which includes a sandy beachfront, five kilometres of nature trails, picnic areas, lookouts, marshlands, a nut grove and a multitude of ecologies," said Nemesvary as he addressed a crowd of 75 people gathered to open the bridge. “This unique bridge is the culmination of a grand vision, a dedicated committee and an outpouring of support from private and public sectors for the past six years."

And the accessibility transformation continues.

“There’s more work to be done, including rebuilding and replacing the 950 metres of accessible raised boardwalk and trails that will lead people of all abilities to this magnificent spot,” said RVCF Board Chair Andrew Harkness. “We are excited to continue Phase 2 of this shared mission with support from our partners and generous community members.”

To learn more about the Nature For All project visit

To learn more Baxter Conservation Area visit


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