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October 27, 2017 4:50 pm

Access North-Opening Up the Outdoors to All

Monday, July 3, 2017 @ 10:00 AM

Video  promotes  places  where  all  can  enjoy the outdoors

Prince George, B.C. – Spinal Chord Injury BC-Access North has spent a little over a year and a half auditing recreational sites and trails throughout the region, all in an effort to make those places accessible to those with mobility challenges.“Certain places  in our Province won’t be  accessible”  says Nancy Harris of  Spinal Chord Injury  BC- Access North.  “We are trying to make  places as accessible  as possible for as many people as possible.”   The Ancient Forest,  east of Prince George is an example.   Those using wheelchairs or walkers  can   enjoy the boardwalk,   and  much more of the park is  accessible  for seniors.

Nancy Harris  says  in many instances  at recreation sites,   some very simple fixes can improve accessibility “In a lot of B.C. Parks.  it was simple things, like changing latches on their doors.  There were common themes that started showing up( during the audit)  like rec sites and trails,  if they have a reasonably  flat camping ground,  an accessible  outhouse,  and an accessible path between those two areas hundreds  of rec site will open up  in B.C.”

While costs  for upgrades to improve accessibility were not part of the audit,  she says  some of the fixes can  be  dealt with in regular maintenance budgets. “Once they know what needs to be changed,  then they can set their priorities when it comes to funding and grant writing.”

Pat Harris,  who is wheelchair bound,  says the best example of  an accessible outdoor site in the Prince George region is the accessible trail   on Tabor Mountain.  The trail’s wheelchair accessible ramp  is  more than  450 metres in length and includes three bridges,  2 culverts, 2 kiosk signs and 6 interpretive sign posts all in the area of the Dougherty Creek Campsite.  “They have done a fantastic job there” says Pat “They have installed an accessible washroom there,  and all of the trails are firm packed surface, so they’re pretty good for wheelchairs, or walkers or  baby buggies  and strollers”   He says the gradients,  of 1 or 2%   are also very  good.

Pat Harris says  the audit  has been welcomed by  all  site operators “Everybody has been very supportive of this project.  As a matter of fact,  once we’ve gone in and done the audits,  the park staffers are saying ‘wow, this is really good, we didn’t realize, that little  bump thee, or that little lip on that toilet wasn’t very good’. ”  He says the audits have  encouraged many to  want to learn more about accessibility and universal design. “So what has dove tailed off the audits we’ve been doing is education.  So we’ve designed a universal design and  accessibility  workshop.  So we’ve been delivering workshops to BC Parks staffers,  rec sites and trails BC,  City of Prince George  and regional District staff  and so there’s really an appetite out there to learn about this stuff and get it right.”

Pat says  the desire  for more knowledge was a bit of a surprise “We expected cooperation,  but it really  snow balled into  an initiative that people really are interested in and bought into,  more than we thought.”

While there is no current plan to revisit the audited sites to see if changes have been made,  Pat  says they will  look into  ding that kind of follow-up work “That’s a really important point.  Once we’ve done an audit and  we’ve given the park’s staff direction on what needs to be improved,  the follow through, making sure  those improvements have been made, is important.  Going back in a year or two years because I think sometimes  what these  departments struggle with is budgets and funding for on going maintenance, so that’s really key,  that whatever is done in terms of accessibility is kept up for sure.”



Could someone post directions to the accessible trail on Tabor.

    Site maps and lots of other information are available here.


Good article about an important topic. One correction please: Pat Harris is not wheelchair bound and most wheelchair users are not wheelchair bound or confined. A wheelchair is simply a tool for mobility.

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