Exploring Barriers and Accessibility for Mobility-Related Disabilities in BC Parks

The above was presented at the March 9-12, 2021 Virtual Research Summit.

Ce qui précède a été présenté au Sommet de Recherche Virtuel du 9 au 12 mars 2021.

The following is preliminary content for a session at the March 9-12, 2021 Virtual Research Summit, submitted by Craig Paulson with BC Parks and Lorraine Copas with the Social Planning and Research Council of BC.

Ce qui suit est le contenu préliminaire d’une session du Sommet de Recherche Virtuel du 9 au 12 mars 2021, soumis par Craig Paulson avec BC Parks et Lorraine Copas avec le Social Planning and Research Council of BC.


(Lisez la version française ci-dessous.)

In 2017, BC Parks partnered with the Social Planning and Research Council of BC to disseminate surveys to people who receive the Disability Parking Permit. The survey asked people with mobility-related disabilities about their experiences in BC Parks so we could learn ways to increase their participation in Parks experiences. The survey results taught us more than we expected. We learned that the majority of respondents not only face personal barriers in accessing recreation opportunities – such as cost, access to mobility devices, transportation and social networks – but that BC Parks and other recreation opportunities are consistently inaccessible to visitors with mobility-related disabilities. Our presentation is focused primarily on sharing research findings from the survey and will include two parts. First, the recorded portion will include a recorded zoom conversation between Craig and Lorraine where they will share how the research project came together what some of the findings were. In the live portion of the presentation, they will share their tips about how park agencies can do community-based research on accessibility and integrate research findings into facility and program planning.


En 2017, BC Parks s’est associé au Social Planning and Research Council of BC pour diffuser des enquêtes aux personnes qui reçoivent le permis de stationnement pour handicapés. L’enquête demandait aux personnes ayant un handicap lié à la mobilité de parler de leurs expériences à BC Parks afin que nous puissions apprendre des moyens d’accroître leur participation aux expériences de Parks. Les résultats de l’enquête nous ont appris plus que ce que nous attendions. Nous avons appris que la majorité des répondants se heurtent non seulement à des obstacles personnels pour accéder aux possibilités de loisirs – tels que le coût, l’accès aux appareils de mobilité, le transport et les réseaux sociaux – mais aussi que BC Parks et d’autres possibilités de loisirs sont systématiquement inaccessibles aux visiteurs souffrant de handicaps liés à la mobilité. Notre présentation est principalement axée sur le partage des résultats de l’enquête et comprendra deux parties. Tout d’abord, la partie enregistrée comprendra une conversation enregistrée en zoom entre Craig et Lorraine, où ils partageront comment le projet de recherche a abouti à certaines des conclusions. Dans la partie en direct de la présentation, ils partageront leurs conseils sur la manière dont les agences du parc peuvent effectuer des recherches communautaires sur l’accessibilité et intégrer les résultats de la recherche dans la planification des installations et des programmes.

Traduit avec www.DeepL.com/Translator (version gratuite)

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version).

Back to pre-summit material.

Retour à la matériel de pré-sommet.

California State Parks Accessibility Guidelines (2015)


Latest version of California State Parks Accessibility Guidelines (2015) 

NOTE: Document currently unavailable due to pending revisions. Archival copy available by emailing California State Parks using download link.


Investigating Access to Natural Places for People with Disabilities


Dr. Helen Smith is a Churchill Fellow from Australia who travelled the globe to explore different approaches to inclusion and access for people with disabilities. 


“To assist more people access, explore and enjoy natural places in Australia – Canada, UK, Finland, Germany, Switzerland” 


Park Accessibility Evaluation Manual

Operations Manual/Guidelines

“We see National Parks as a key pillar in the developing market of Accessible Tourism and as a critical element of the health and wellbeing of the world’s population regardless of an individual’s ability. 70% of tourists visit a National Park as part of their vacation.

We have worked with Parks Victoria to develop the Park Accessibility Evaluation Manual. It is our aim to create a network of park accessibility specialists to champion creating a range of inclusive outdoor experiences to cater for people of all abilities and also embrace the growing range of outdoor accessibility equipment.

Our mission is to be agents of change; to inspire people who have never traveled before to do so, and to inspire others to do more. To encourage all cultures of the world to see disability as an integral part of life, and to provide the motivation and tools to the tourism industry to allow them to create accessible environments that enable inclusion in an economically sustainable way.

This manual is made available to park managers for reference and as a guide for modifying or creating new open spaces. The manual is not to be made available from any other site or to be used for commercial purposes.”



CPCIL Webinar on Accessibility and Inclusion in Parks (Recording)

Nature has no building code, but everyone belongs outdoors.

This webinar explored approaches to accessibility and inclusion in parks and protected areas, from modifying the facilities to adapting the experience. From the east coast, explore Parks Canada’s work creating barrier-free park facilities and experiences, and from the west coast learn about the inclusive programs delivered by Power to Be. Discover how inclusion takes innovation, commitment, and teamwork.



Tara McNally MacPhee, @taramcnallymacphee Manager of Visitor Experience, Prince Edward Island National Park, Parks Canada

Carinna Kenigsberg Manager of Community Partnerships Power To Be, British Columbia

This webinar is part of the Canadian Parks Collective for Innovation and Leadership program to host a webinar on the first Thursday of each month.

Links to Resources

This is a temporary directory comprising links from the presentation. Please submit additional resources and programs using the buttons below.

Programs and Organizations

Power to Be Society PowerToBe.ca
Community Recreational Initiatives Society (CRIS) AdaptiveAdventures.ca
Rocky Mountain Adaptive RockyMountainAdaptive.com 
Alberta Abilities Lodges/Coyote Lake Lodge aals.ca
Access Advisor AccessAdvisor.ca
Rick Hansen Foundation RickHansen.com


British Columbia Mobility Opportunities Society
Bowhead Corp
Bowhead Reach Adaptive Chair
Sand Rider Beach Chair sandriderusa.com
Mobi-Mat Beach Mat mobi-mat.com
Access Trax Beach Mat accesstraxsd.com


Parks Canada Design Guidelines for Accessible Outdoor Recreation Facilities
BC Parks Universal Design Guide
Alberta Parks Inclusion Plan
Capital Region District of Victoria Guide to User-Friendly Trails
Intermunicipal Advisory Committee on Disability Issues (IACDI)
Naturally Accessible
Dr. Helen Smith, New South Wales
Dr. Helen Smith
Churchill Fellowship World Tour
California State Parks Accessibility Guidelines (2015)
United States Access Board Design for Outdoor Developed Areas

Connecting Canadians to Nature

Our national, provincial and territorial parks play an important role in connecting Canadians to nature, pro- viding unparalleled natural classrooms and playgrounds for Canadians of all ages. As hosts to natural areas of exceptional beauty, and with a mandate and expertise to reach the public and set them on a path to discover and experience nature, Canadian park agencies are passionately committed to connecting all Canadians with nature. We see this as a fundamental priority and critical investment in both this generation and generations to come. Connecting Canadians with nature is an essential investment in Canada’s long-term prosperity.

Download Report (English)

No one sector or level of government alone can ensure that Canadians benefit from contact with nature. We need collaboration across a wide range of interests — from educators to health care professionals to urban planners and beyond – to forge new bonds between Canadians and nature. Only in working together can we nurture healthy lifestyles, support strong, vibrant communities, and provide our children with the best future we possibly can.

Federal, provincial and territorial park agencies in Canada, working through the Canadian Parks Council, have prepared “Connecting Canadians with Nature — An Investment in the Well-Being of our Citizens”, a report synthesizing the growing evidence related to the benefits of connecting Canadians with nature. 


Alberta Parks Inclusion Plan

Download Report (English)

Everyone Belongs Outside

Alberta’s parks are important to our quality of life and we are committed to making parks more accessible and inclusive so that everyone benefits from outdoor recreation and spending time in nature.  A priority of the Plan for Parks is to implement a province-wide inclusion plan to enhance visitor experiences. Everyone Belongs Outside: Alberta Parks Inclusion Plan was released in response. Alberta Parks has been working on ensuring facilities and programs are designed so that everyone’s needs are considered regardless of age, ability or disability, economic standing or other factors. 

Goals of Everyone Belongs Outside:

Improving Access: Accessibility means identifying and removing barriers through design, auditing parks and training for Alberta Parks staff. The primary goal here is to find ways to improve access in sites and experiences across Alberta’s network of parks.

Inviting Participation: It takes time to develop relationships. Moving beyond access and inviting participation requires an open mind, time and patience.

Increasing Capacity: Capacity building strategies will build the programs we have and provide opportunities to collaborate. Removing barriers and increasing capacity means more people can benefit from connecting to the natural world.

Parks for All/Des parcs pour tous

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