In 2016 BC Parks embarked on their journey to realize an ‘Accessibility Guarantee’ wherein people living with disabilities would be able to enjoy outdoor activities in BC Parks with no barriers. As Craig Paulson, Recreation Section Head, North Coast Skeena Region & Haida Gwaii explains “the goal is to make all front-country (road accessible) parks in BC accessible to everyone. We realized we couldn’t do this in isolation and invited members of the greater accessibility service community to give us guidance.” The BC Parks Accessibility Advisory Committee meets quarterly and has members representing organizations across BC, the Disability Alliance BC, SPARCBC, BC Aboriginal Network on Disabilities Society, Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction and Power To Be.

Power To Be is honored to be a partner and member of this committee and has been excited to see the progress made by BC Parks from this process and their dedication to bringing its goal to fruition. Craig continues, “we are proud that almost all staff have completed experiential training in universal design and that accessibility audits of all front-country parks have been done.” Individual park information can now be found on the BC Parks website to support the needs of those park users living with disabilities.

They are now increasing partnerships with community groups to provide adaptive recreation experiences. “The BC Parks Community Engagement and Education section is currently in the process of compiling a list of adaptive equipment and where it is available across the province; this list will be displayed on our website to complement the accessibility information already there. Through the license plate program, BC Parks is supporting partner organizations in all 6 regions to purchase adaptive equipment” states Rike Moon, Community Engagement Specialist, BC Parks. “For example, the Shuswap TrailRider Adaptive Adventure Society received funding in 2019 to purchase adaptive equipment to use in Herald Provincial Park.” The Prince George region also purchased a TrailRider and partnered with Power To Be to share knowledge with their team about our practice and approach to inclusive hiking programs.

The BC Parks License Plate program is a partnership between the Province and ICBC. All net proceeds from the license plate sale and ongoing renewals of the specialty plates are being re-invested back into provincial parks to support a number of diverse programs and projects related to conservation, community engagement, and Indigenous relations.

On November 13, 2020, the Canadian Parks Collective for Innovation and Leadership (CPCIL) selected BC Parks for an Agency Award of Excellence in recognition of the Accessibility Guarantee and culture of inclusion. We would like to congratulate BC Parks on this amazing achievement and on behalf of our staff, our participants, and the Power To Be community, we would like to say thank you for making beautiful provincial parks and protected areas more accessible for everyone and their families to explore.