June 14 to16, 2016
For many years, I have wanted to audit physical spaces. I want to make people aware of the inaccessibility of the world to some of us. Of course, I realize that not everything can be changed, but there are many things that can be changed with little effort. The result is better access for everyone, and increased interest, business, or profit for the places making the changes. It sounds like a win- win situation for me.
Somehow there are two main groups in this conversation, those that are on board and those that are resisting. I had the pleasure of meeting many in the first group on my three day trip to southern Alberta with two fantastic Alberta Parks employees. We were on a mission to audit three sites that were receiving infrastructure money to increase accessibility to the parks.
Our first stop was Dinosaur Provincial Park. This is a UNESCO world heritage site, so I was excited to see what they offered the public. I had not been there for...well a long time. Let’s leave it at that. I was pleasantly surprised at the facilities and the care the staff had for the visitor’s experience. My colleagues and I looked at the comfort camping, visitor’s centre, select bathrooms, select campsites, a proposed self guided tour that would be completely accessible, and the accessible bus used for other tours. We were welcomed and people were very receptive to our comments. That is as good a start as you can get.
|Accessible shower in Dino Park|
|Valley from a lookout in Dino Provincial park|
Our second day took us to Kinbrook Island Park which is just southeast of Brooks, Alberta. When I was living there, they just called it Lake Newell. This is a camping, day use, picnic area, and boat launch. We looked at the shower building, campsite, specific day use areas, the food stand, and beach area. We did not look at the launch area with critical eyes as it is in the process of being upgraded. There are other accessibility consultants that will contact the developer to make sure there is clear information on what would make the dock and launching area accessible. This park has so much potential and has a good base to make this a very accessible place. It is very beautiful too, so it already has that going for it.
Our third day took us to Lethbridge area. We arrived at Park Lake. The parks people that guided us were so completely on board that I felt we had already made strives just by their attitude. This place was also beautiful. They were already ahead of the game by having designated wheelchair accessible camping areas. These are wider and paved. The camp sites have accessible picnic tables and are near the outhouses. The whole area has paved or packed pathways. It is easy to get to the waterfront area and along the lake. We found many things were already accessible and the staff was aware of the things that need to be upgraded to make them accessible. I have this place logged in my memory to come back to. I could see myself spending a day or a weekend there listening to the birds, having a picnic on one of the accessible tables, or scooting along the lake watching the animal life or just breathing in the fresh air.
The information we collected will be available to the public on the Alberta Parks website. This is a relatively new program, so it may take a little while to be complete.
To find more information on Alberta parks go to Alberta Parks inclusion initiative