The Province is working hard to make sure Albertans with physical disabilities or other mobility challenges can enjoy more of the great outdoors this summer.

Leah Arnason is an Inclusion Planner and Landscape Architect who's been working on making the parks more inclusive.

She says they'll open a barrier free fishing experience in the Castle Wilderness Park in 2018.

She says they already have one in place now in Kananaskis Country.

Mount Lorette Pond already does offer an accessible fishing opportunity and there's another one in central Alberta that's not quite finished, but we've been working on it for the past year as well."

They're opening five new sites within existing provincial parks, all aimed at getting those with access issues into the wilderness.

From the Province's News Release:

-Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park
-Bow Valley Provincial Park- Mount Lorette Pond
-Pigeon Lake Provincial Park
Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park
-Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park

The accessible fishing venue in the Castle Wildland Provincial Park will feature a boardwalk around Bathing Lake. Over the next four years, more than $20 million will go to access routes, inclusion projects, camping, signage, picnic areas and hiking trails in the Castle parks.

“Alberta's parks are for everyone to enjoy. By improving accessibility in our parks, our government is helping more Albertans benefit from being out in the prairies, mountains and boreal landscapes.”

Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks

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“Being immersed in nature for a day or a week can be a life-changing experience for persons isolated by four walls. I commend Alberta Parks for breaking down barriers facing one in every 10 Albertans.”

Ross Wein, President, Alberta Abilities Lodges Society.

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The 15 accessibility projects will be known as the Cecile Buhl One-Kilometre Experience, ensuring access of a minimum of one kilometre, along with parking and accessible washrooms. Buhl was an educator and an advocate for accessibility who volunteered on audits of Alberta provincial parks. She died in November 2016.

“As an Alberta Parks Ambassador, Cecile put her heart and her soul into making parks accessible for everyone. Nature was what Cecile lived for and that’s where she was happiest. That was her passion. She would be honoured by this recognition of her work.”

Lydia Buhl, Cecile’s mother.

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Alberta Parks continues to implement accessibility and inclusion in support of its “Everyone Belongs Outside” strategy.

The province will also begin construction this year on two additional replacement cabins at William Watson Lodge in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, scheduled to open in 2018.
The $2.8-million project follows the completion of two other replacement cabins at the popular destination, which supports seniors and persons with mobility challenges. 

Questions, comments, or story ideas? Email us at news@okotoksonline.com

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