New accessible cabins at Cultus Lake offer an amazing barrier-free camping experience for SCI BC Peers and their families.
This summer, 25 new accessible cabins opened at Maple Bay Campgrounds in Cultus Lake Provincial Park—a first-ever for BC Parks and Spinal Cord Injury BC, who worked together on the project. “It’s nice to know that accessibility, inclusiveness and universal design is top of mind when planning parks like this,” said SCI BC Peer Program Coordinator Ryan Clarkson during the official opening ceremony in July. Clarkson, along with SCI BC’s Manager of Philanthropy, Shelley Milstein, helped provide valuable insight on the inclusivity of the cabins and offered input to BC Parks on their project plans.
“Feedback from SCI BC was utilized to adjust our plans and make sure we were able to get it right,” says Rob Wilson, Area Supervisor for BC Parks, who worked closely with Clarkson on the project. “BC Parks are for everyone, but the reality is that not everyone can easily access them, and BC Parks wants to change that.”
Wilson adds that the lesson learned is to consider inclusivity from the start of planning through to the end of a project.
“I’m hopeful that we’ve found a way to incorporate the principals of universal access throughout this project. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m very pleased with how it has turned out so far. I hope that together we continue to break down barriers to accessing our amazing outdoor spaces. They truly are special, and everyone should get to experience them.”
The 200 square foot cabins have a queen bed, a single bed, and single bunk beds, and can sleep up to five people. Each cabin has its own covered patio with an accessible picnic table and level entry way. Heating, lighting, and a power outlet are all provided. Accessible washrooms and showers are on site, as well as a covered group picnic table area with counter tops and wash stations for cooking. The cabins are located right next to the lake, with the lakefront area only a short wheel away.
Naturally, we invited ourselves over to try out the new digs. In August, several SCI BC Peers and their families, along with a few members of our staff, stayed overnight in the new accessible cabins and enjoyed the great outdoors. (You can see more photos from the event on our Facebook page).
“The trip was a great experience,” says Peer Sheryl Newman. “Altogether, staying in Maple Bay Cabins gave me the confidence that it would be easy for me to go camping and enjoy the outdoors more. My family and I went to a cabin two years ago where there were stairs all over and I had to be carried to go to the lake. Rolling around was difficult and I couldn’t access the outhouse, so I had to improvise inside the cabin. So we definitely would come back here again!”
Newman says highlights of the weekend included meeting new people and experiencing new activities like kayaking and biking. She ranks the best accessible feature as the washroom and the bed where it’s level to transfer. She adds there’s some room for improvement— she suggests that trash bins inside the cabin and in the washrooms, a clothesline for drying wet clothes, and a small lamp that can be dimmed through the night would all be welcome additions.
This article first appeared in our Fall 2019 issue of The Spin and has been edited for our blog. Read the full version alongside other stories, including:
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- The Breast Experience: Properly Fitting Bras
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- and more!