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Exploring Wheelchair Accessibility of Popular Recreational Sites In London, Ontario

Updated: Dec 11, 2023



Planning a night out or a day trip is an exciting endeavor. Still, it's essential to consider all aspects of your outing, especially if you or a loved one have accessibility needs.

In this blog post, we'll explore some of the best recreational spots in London, Ontario, that prioritize accessibility. London has something to offer everyone, whether you're into outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or simply enjoying nature.


The Importance of Accessibility in London

First, let's explore the significance of accessibility in London, Ontario.

According to recent statistics:

  • There are 2.6 million people in Ontario with a disability, with over 40% of this population aged 65 and above.

  • A 2019 report indicated that almost 27% of the London population consists of individuals with disabilities, which continues to rise as the population ages. Addressing accessibility should be a priority to cater to everyone's needs and ensure everyone is included in our diverse community.

Below is an overview of the strengths and limitations of accessible recreation sites in London.


Victoria Park

Victoria Park is a stunning, centrally-located outdoor green space in London that annually hosts various events and festivals. It's a popular choice for locals and tourists alike.

Strengths:

  • Accessible pathways:

    • Victoria Park has well-maintained accessible pathways which are well-paved and wide enough for wheelchair users to navigate.

  • Rest areas:

    • Numerous seating areas throughout the park provide a place to rest and enjoy the surroundings.

  • Accessible washrooms:

    • Accessible washrooms available with grab rails attached

  • Event accessibility:

    • Many events held in Victoria Park prioritize accessibility, making it an excellent destination for inclusive entertainment.

  • Ramp access point at St. Mary's Gate South, Gunmakers Entrance, and Pavillion Cafe Entrance

  • Permanently open access point at Crown Gate West, Royal Gate East, and Gunmakers Entrance

Limitations:

  • Accessible Parking Spaces:

    • The route from the car park to the entrance is accessible to a wheelchair user. However, parking is not free "for all users," including blue badge holders, and there are no parking spots specifically for blue badge holders.

  • Event accessibility:

    • The door to the Pavillion Cafe Entrance needs to be pulled open

    • No handrails on the ramp at the pavilion cafe entrance


Boler Mountain

Boler Mountain has you covered if you're an outdoor enthusiast looking for adventure. This recreational spot offers skiing and snowboarding in the winter and mountain biking and zip-lining in the summer.

Strengths:

  • Accessible facilities:

    • Boler Mountain provides accessible skiing equipment along with a separate trail according to varying levels of skills and needs.

  • Adaptive Skiing Programs:

    • Boler Mountain often provides adaptive skiing programs in collaboration with London Track 3 ski school. This program caters to people with various disabilities, such as those with mobility needs or visual impairments. Adaptive skiing instructors are trained to work with individuals with disabilities to ensure they can enjoy the slopes safely. It offers adaptive equipment such as outriggers and sit-skis.

    • The outriggers are crutches with skis attached which are catered to amputees, whereas sit-skis are a wheelchair on skis which can be used by a student possessing the necessary upper body strength.

  • Rest Areas:

    • Boler Mountain provides rest areas that are designed to be accessible. These areas allow individuals with disabilities to take breaks and enjoy the scenic views while maintaining their safety.

  • Wheelchair Accessibility:

    • The mountain has wheelchair-accessible facilities, including ramps and pathways and an elevator to make it easier for individuals using wheelchairs or mobility aids to navigate the area as well as have access to the chalet.

  • Accessible washrooms:

    • Clean and accessible washrooms are available with larger stalls and handrails.

Limitations:

  • Accessible Parking Spaces:

    • Accessible parking spaces are close to the main facilities but may not always be available due to limited spaces.



The Grand Theatre

If you're in the mood for some culture, The Grand Theatre is a historic gem in London. It showcases a variety of performances, including plays, musicals, and concerts.

Strengths:

  • Accessible seating:

    • The Grand Theatre offers accessible seating options for individuals with disabilities.

  • Assisted listening devices:

    • Guests can request assisted listening devices to enhance their theatre experience.

  • Accessible washrooms:

    • Accessible washrooms are available for all visitors. There are larger stalls available for a wheelchair and support person, with grab bars and an adult-sized changing table

Limitations:

  • Accessible seating:

    • The accessible seating area only allows for one support person to

    • accompany the wheelchair user, which can be limiting for those who attend the event in a group setting.

  • Accessible parking:

    • There are no designated parking locations for the Grand Theatre; therefore, visitors need to park in a nearby neighborhood, which could pose some challenges for covering a more considerable distance to get to the theatre location.


Fanshawe Pioneer Village

Fanshawe Pioneer Village offers a unique journey into the past with its reconstructed buildings and costumed interpreters. Here's how they ensure accessibility:

Strengths:


Wheelchair accessibility:

○ The exhibits and buildings are wheelchair accessible.

Accessible parking:

○ Accessible parking is near the Spriet Family Visitor Centre and Heritage Village Entrance.

Accessible restrooms:

○ Washrooms have accessible stalls, as well as change tables, and handle rails on the walls


Limitations:

● Accessible parking:

○ Parking is available, but the parking lot is gravel, which could pose challenges for mobility device users.



Museum London

Museum London is a haven for art enthusiasts, featuring a collection of regional and Canadian art and rotating exhibitions.

Strengths:

  • Wheelchair accessibility:

    • Ramps, elevators, and accessible pathways available for wheelchair users.

  • Accessible restrooms:

    • Accessible washrooms ensure that everyone can comfortably enjoy their visit; grab rails are available in the washroom along with larger accessible stalls.

  • Accessible parking:

    • Accessible parking spaces are available at the main entrance.

  • Wheelchair Accessibility:

    • There is a wheelchair-accessible main entrance with push-button doors, an elevator, and a complimentary transport chair

  • Support Persons

    • The museum graciously welcomes a support person/caregiver who accompanies the visitor, and they are not charged for the tour or program fees.

Limitations:

  • Accessible parking:

    • Parking is available, but limited spaces could hinder this during busier hours of operation.


East Park

For a day of family fun, East Park is the place to be. This amusement park offers attractions like a water park, go-karts, and mini-golf. Here's how they ensure an inclusive experience:

  • Accessible Pathways:

    • The park features accessible pathways, allowing individuals to use mobility aids, such as wheelchairs, scooters, or walkers, to navigate the park.

  • Inclusive Attractions:

    • Many of the park's attractions and rides are designed to be inclusive and accessible. East Park provides accessible options for popular attractions such as the arcade and mini-golf to ensure that visitors can enjoy the excitement as well. They have large spaces to easily maneuver wheelchairs and access the activities that cater to all ages and abilities. The crew members are also trained to support people with accessibility needs as needed.

  • Accessible washrooms:

    • Accessible washrooms include larger stalls for wheelchair access and handrails for support.


Limitations:

  • Accessible parking:

    • There are no designated accessibility parking spaces available, but East Park crew members are trained to assist with parking and to help guide wheelchairs to the pathways as needed when contacted.

  • Seasonal Limitations:

    • Some attractions at East Park, such as water rides, may not be fully accessible to individuals with specific disabilities due to their inherent design and safety requirements.


It's crucial to recognize that every individual with a disability has unique accessibility needs and requirements. While many locations, including the ones mentioned in this blog post, strive to be inclusive and accessible, it's important to remember that everyone has unique needs when it comes to requirements to cater to their accessibility. Therefore, individuals with disabilities should contact specific locations directly to inquire about the accessibility features and services most pertinent to them. This proactive approach to accessibility ensures that each person's unique requirements are met, fostering a more inclusive and accommodating environment for all. So, whether you're planning a visit to one of the beautiful parks, a cultural evening at the theatre, or a day of thrilling adventures, reaching out to the venues directly to discuss your specific accessibility requirements is the best way to ensure your experience is enjoyable and fulfilling.



 

References


Accessibility in Ontario: information for businesses. ontario.ca.

Accessibility. The Grand Theatre. https://www.grandtheatre.com/accessibility

Government of Canada, Statistics Canada. Persons with and without disabilities aged 15

years and over, census metropolitan areas. Published December 3, 2019.

Victoria Park | AccessAble. Victoria Park | AccessAble.

Accessibility - Boler Mountain. Boler Mountain. Published November 15, 2022.

Search | AccessAble. Search | AccessAble.

Student FAQs. London Track 3 Ski School. https://www.londontrack3.ca/page/show/8089506-student-faqs

Village Accessibility — Fanshawe Pioneer Village. Fanshawe Pioneer Village.

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