Whether you’re looking to enjoy a beach day or two, go camping, or just want to spend some time outdoors away from the city, nature is for everyone. And BC Parks is working towards making more provincial parks and greenspaces accessible to all.
Back in March, BC Parks released its Commitment to Inclusion to the public, which ensures provincial parks provide meaningful experiences in nature to all of their visitors.
To support this, BC’s Budget 2023 is doling out $3.6 million over the next three years to continue upgrading facilities like washrooms, parking lots, and trails to create a stronger, more consistent accessibility standard across the board – one that aligns with
“People living with visible and invisible disabilities have a right to and should be able to enjoy outdoor activities,” says David Karn of the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy. “We have been recognized with a national award from the Canadian Parks Council for our work in promoting accessibility in parks.”
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In an email with Curiocity, Karn shares some exciting new accessibility features you can now find at some of the province’s best parks. Here are some new and existing features and facilities to keep an eye out for:
- Paved parking lot and trail upgrades
- Reconstructed popular beach access trails
- Installation of an accessible beach Mobi-Mat
- One accessible pit toilet and accessible picnic tables in the day-use area
- Four designated accessible parking stalls near the trailhead (note Park Lot 2 does not have designated accessible parking)
- Addition of a fully accessible raised boardwalk on the north side of the park, providing access to ancient old-growth trees
- Four accessible pit toilets
- Slip-resistant trails and wooden boardwalks
- Firm and level-paved parking lots (no designated accessible parking stalls)
- Addition of an accessible viewing platform
- Addition of new playgrounds with universally accessible components at Miracle Beach, Moberly, Paarens Beach, and Whiskers
- Installation of wheelchair-accessible ramps at all playgrounds
- Four accessible parking stalls at the Davis parking area
- Wide, slip-resistant exterior pathways
- One set of designated accessible pit toilets at the campground (non-accessible pit toilets at day-use and boat launch areas)
- Addition of a new, full-service (water, sewer, electrical) campground with 92 campsites with accessible sites, picnic tables, and washrooms
- One accessible parking stall at the visitor centre
- One accessible pit toilet connected to accessible pathways from the parking lot at Sumallo Grove
- Wide, slip-resistant trails at Strawberry Flats day-use area
- Seven picnic tables (non-campsite) by the parking lot at West Gate (not connected to accessible pathways, no accessible overhangs)
- The first section of Skagit River Trail is wide, stable, with no overhead obstructions
- Addition of 25 wheelchair-accessible cabins at Maple Bay (2019)
- Six accessible parking stalls at Entrance Bay
- Accessible toilet stalls in washroom buildings at Clear Creek
- 58 vehicle-accessible campsites at Delta Grove (picnic tables do not have accessible overhangs)
- Accessible toilet stalls in washroom buildings at Maple Bay (may not meet current accessibility standards)
- Water stand pipes at Maple Bay, some may have raised drains
These features follow the principles of Universal Design, which outlines the layout and composition of an environment so that it can be “accessed, understood, and used to the greatest extent possible by all people, regardless of their age, size, ability, or disability,” according to Karn.
To help make Universal Design a reality at as many parks as possible, BC Parks created the Accessibility Advisory Committee in 2015. Members include the Social Planning and Research Council of BC, Disability Alliance BC, the BC Aboriginal Network on Disability Society, and Power To Be.
“The purpose of the committee is to provide advice and feedback to make provincial park experiences welcoming and enjoyable for visitors with disabilities.”
For more information on park accessibility, you can check out BC Parks’ accessibility page, which lists the accessible features and facilities in each provincial park, where applicable.
“We know that there’s more work to do, and our government is committed to ensuring that everyone in British Columbia can meaningfully enjoy parks,” said Karn.
Information on accessible parks is from the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy, and BC Parks, and is accurate as of publication date.