Five Alberta parks will be refurbished by this summer as part of a $3-million plan to create accessible experiences in 15 provincial parks by 2020. Alberta Parks will also create a barrier-free fishing experience at Castle Wildland Provincial Park in 2018.
The parks to be refurbished are Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, Bow Valley Provincial Park – Mount Lorette Pond, Pigeon Lake Provincial Park, Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park and Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park.
Castle Wildland Provincial Park’s accessible fishing venue will feature a boardwalk around Bathing Lake. Over the next four years, more than $20 million will be spent on access routes, inclusion projects, camping, signage, picnic areas and hiking trails in the Castle parks.
“Being immersed in nature for a day or a week can be a life-changing experience for persons isolated by four walls,” said Ross Wein, president of Alberta Abilities Lodges Society, in a press release. “I commend Alberta Parks for breaking down barriers facing one in every 10 Albertans.”
The 15 accessibility projects will be called the Cecile Buhl One-Kilometre Experience, ensuring accessible access of at least one kilometre, as well as parking and accessible restrooms. Buhl was an educator and advocate for accessibility who volunteered on audits of Alberta provincial parks. She passed away in November 2016.
Alberta Parks continues to implement accessibility and inclusion as part of its “Everyone Belongs Outside” strategy. This year, the province will also begin construction on two additional replacement cabins at William Watson Lodge in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, scheduled to open in 2018. The $2.8-million project comes following the completion of two other replacement cabins at the park, which supports seniors and people with mobility challenges.