Accessibility in Edmonton
Hawrelak Park is my favourite in the city and offers ample parking and accessibility, with two accessible bathroom shelters, water fountains, and nature trails. According to the City of Edmonton, the park's upcoming rehabilitation project is planned to begin by spring 2023. Unfortunately, full park closure for up to three years will be necessary for safety reasons, but the park will remain open for the 2023 Silver Skate Festival before the closure.
Edmonton is fortunate to have a selection of accessible playgrounds, with one of the best being the Jumpstart Playground by Canadian Tire in Clareview. This playground is fully wheelchair accessible and features a merry-go-round, slides, ramps, and platforms, There are picnic tables available and the bathrooms are located inside the rec centre. Siblings can play together, and this park creates an inclusive environment for all to play! Another great spot for accessible fun in the summer is the splash park at Castledowns. This park is wheelchair friendly, with great bathrooms, ample parking, and a variety of water features to keep cool on a hot summer day! To learn more about Edmonton's playgrounds, check out www.edmontonplaygrounds.net.
The Muttart Conservatory is a great way to have a tropical vacation year round and explore a variety of plants and trees! It offers wheelchair ramps, but they can be quite steep, so make sure you have someone to help if you are using a manual wheelchair. One of the pyramids has stairs inside, so you can only access some of the plants. The bathrooms are great here and there's a cute little café that serves delicious coffee!
TELUS World of Science IMAX theatre
The TELUS World of Science Edmonton offers ample parking and great bathrooms. Almost everything is accessible in the building! After exploring the newly-renovated exhibits, head to the IMAX Theatre to experience the largest movie screen in Alberta. The starry night theatre has space for wheelchairs but you can also transfer into the seats to give you a better experience with the 3D IMAX screen.
Rogers Place & The ICE District
The ICE District in Edmonton has lots of parking available. However, it can be costly and the lots can be difficult to navigate. On the plus side, all of the buildings in the district are connected via pedways, so you don't have to go outside during the winter months. Rogers Place has wheelchair accessible seating, but it is limited in that it only provides one additional seat for companions, which can be problematic for those attending events with family or friends, as you may have to separate and sit in different areas.
El Cortez has a bathroom on the main floor. Its patio has one step, or you can access the space through a side entrance off the street. Under The High Wheel is another great choice, located in the Roots On Whyte building. This popular brunch spot has amazing food, an accessible parking space outside the front door, and is able to move chairs and tables to accommodate a wheelchair. There are also excellent accessible single-use washrooms on the main floor.
Accessible Dance Floors
I love a good dance party, so I encourage more wheelchair users to go out clubbing if you feel like it! However, there are things to be aware of. When a club is full, it's hard to move around, and you can get an occasional drink spilled on you while sitting, but you also get some free drinks from fellow partiers! A few of my favourite dance spots are The Cabin , El Furniture Warehouse , On the Rocks , and The Common.
The next question is, how do you get to these accessible places? You can always drive if you have the luxury to do so. Edmonton Transit System (ETS) is fairly accessible, but it can be difficult to wait outside in the winter, and not all neighbourhoods have bus access. Dedicated Accessible Transit Service (DATS) is a great program, but like anything else, it has its pros and cons. Royal Wagon specializes in safe, reliable and compassionate transportation for people with limited mobility. Their team of retro-fitted vehicles and experienced drivers aim to provide accessibility to all of their customers. This is a service you book in advance. They are reliable, friendly, and have comparative fares to taxis!
Almost anything can be adapted to be more accessible and inclusive. Humans always adapt to our environment, so why is it any different if you have a disability? It shouldn't be. If you have questions about how to adapt something, reach out to myself or anyone at ReYu Paralysis Recovery Centre: www.reyu.ca and we would be happy to help you out.