B.C. outlines plan to improve accessibility at provincial parks

Click to play video: 'B.C. commits $4M to make provincial parks more accessible'
B.C. commits $4M to make provincial parks more accessible
WATCH: The B.C. government is pledging to make provincial parks for accessible. – Mar 22, 2023

The B.C. government has outlined how it will spend $3.6 million dollars to improve accessibility of provincial parks near urban centres.

The province announced a new “BC Parks Commitment to Inclusion” on Wednesday, which will see the money, earmarked in this year’s provincial budget, spent over the next three years to bring park facilities up to accessibility standards.

“We know that being outdoors can help build community and provide many positive health benefits – physical, mental and spiritual. British Columbians love and appreciate the beauty of B.C.’s natural and wild spaces, but there continues to be far too many people who face barriers to being included, welcome and safe in our parks,” B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman said.

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“Our government is dedicated to ensuring that everyone in B.C. can both access and feel comfortable in our parks, and we will continue our work to break down the barriers that discourage or prevent many of our neighbours from accessing the natural beauty of our province.”

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The funding will be used to upgrade facilities like washrooms, parking lots and trails to make them more accessible, while universal design standards are being incorporated into new campgrounds and recreation area expansions.

The province says it has already paved the day-use parking lot and upgraded a section of trail at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial park, while a universally accessible playground with wheelchair accessible ramp has been built at Miracle Beach Provincial Park. Both parks are on Vancouver Island.

The province’s BC Parks website is also being continuously upgraded to include park-specific accessibility information for several parks, including photos and descriptions of accessible facilities and infrastructure.

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Ahead of developing its new inclusive parks commitment, the province completed accessibility audits at all of its 330 front-country parks in 2018-2019, and surveyed 20,000 B.C. residents with mobility-related disabilities to help identify accessibility barriers.

The Commitment to Inclusion lays out eight core principles, including universal design, inclusive policies and practices and a pledge to listen to people with diverse experiences and to continuously improve.

The province is also continuing to solicit feedback from the public on accessibility barriers in parks.

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