Making BC Accessible For All

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Alex Bracewell is an outdoor enthusiast who loves the nature trails in his community, and he wants everyone to enjoy them. And he means everyone - whether they're walking, in a wheelchair, using a scooter, or on a bike.

"Everyone should have the ability to enjoy the outdoors and the view, especially those in wheelchairs or others with accessibility needs," explained Bracewell. "People with legs can walk anywhere they please, so let's give all people that opportunity."

Bracewell spearheaded the creation of a two-kilometre, fully accessible trail through the Tatlayoko Lake community park in the Cariboo. The trail is made from recycled rubber mining belts, donated by a local mining company. This project was possible thanks to Measuring Up, a 2010 Legacies Now program funded by the Province of BC. The inspiration for the program: BC hosting the next Paralympic Winter Games.

"Our ultimate dream is to have 210 kilometres of accessible trails throughout the Cariboo in time for the 2010 Paralympic Games," said Bracewell. "It's an opportunity to think about how accessible we are for people in wheelchairs and seniors - something that's important for us as our population is aging."

The Tatlayoko Lake trail received a $15,000-grant from Measuring Up, a program being implemented in over 100 communities across BC. Each community is trying to increase local accessibility, and their projects range from installing automatic doors and wheelchair ramps, to creating employment programs and accessible transportation for people with disabilities. "This trail is not only being used by people in wheelchairs, but also those with walkers and baby strollers, and kids on bikes, rollerblades and scooters," explained Bracewell.

"We really want to help all people enjoy the wonderful things the Cariboo and B.C. have to offer - and that's what this trail is about."

Measuring Up helps communities assess and improve how accessible and inclusive they are for people with disabilities, seniors and others with similar needs. The program includes a fund, established by the Province of BC, which offers grants to communities to complete accessibility-related projects.