Vancouver’s Trans, Gender Diverse, and Two-Spirit Advisory Committee
Whether washrooms and recreational programs are inclusive of diverse gender identities can mean the difference between comfort and exclusion for some park users. However, we found few examples of specific strategies developed with LGBTQ+ communities to address these different experiences.
The Vancouver Park Board’s Trans, Gender Diverse, and Two-Spirit (TGD2S) Inclusion Advisory Committee is working to address the unique barriers to access that members of the trans and gender-variant community face.
Formed in 2014, the Committee’s work to date includes universal signage on single-stall park washrooms and change rooms, hosting an outdoor “comic jam” and BBQ for TGD2S families to connect, and facilitating awareness workshops to train Park Board staff on working with TGD2S communities.
More recently, the Park Board approved $35,000 for TGD2S arts and cultural initiatives in parks and community centres as part of the Queer Arts Festival this summer. The TGD2S Inclusion Advisory Committee’s work has been so successful that in 2016 the City of Vancouver modelled their own citywide policy for trans, gender-diverse and two-spirit inclusion after the Park Board’s.
Edmonton’s Funicular: where ‘fun’ meets accessibility
Edmontonians of all ages and abilities can now enjoy easy access to the city’s largest green space thanks to a new funicular that takes people on a free, 48-second scenic ride from street level to river valley.
Since opening in December 2017, the 100 Street Funicular hasn’t only become a destination, but also a key part of people’s everyday lives, with on-site surveys indicating 22% of riders use it as part of their workday commute.
The funicular is part of the larger Mechanized River Valley Access Project that has brought new infrastructure including stairs, a pedestrian bridge, and an elevator to the site. In its first year of operation, the funicular made 114,038 trips—sometimes up to 28 trips an hour.
Rick Hansen Foundation certification helps improve and celebrate accessible places
In 2017, the Rick Hansen Foundation launched Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification™ to help businesses, organizations, and municipalities—including parks and trails—become universally accessible. This is part of their mission to empower individuals with disabilities so they can participate in the community and live life to the fullest.
“Trails and parks are a fundamental part of community,” said Brad McCannell, the Foundation’s VP of Access and Inclusion. “They represent the thread that binds families and allows them to participate in outdoor activities together. If parks and trails are not accessible—if a parent with a disability can’t take their kids to the park or a grandmother can’t take her grandchildren for a walk because the trail is too narrow—then that thread breaks. Municipalities are on the frontline of creating meaningful access.”
The certification process includes a site evaluation and, if accessibility requirements are met, certification. The Foundation points out that a major benefit to getting rated is the recommendations provided by an RHFAC Professional, with the scorecard acting as a blueprint for improving accessibility. You can find accessibility resources for playgrounds and trails on the Foundation’s website.
Eating together, outdoors
In Quebec City, a new development in a public square in the Orsainville District of the Charlesbourg Borough will invite residents to gather around shared food. The Recreation Department, in collaboration with the local councillor, initiated the construction of a public outdoor kitchen in the square, which is in an underserved neighbourhood. Adjacent to a community garden, the square is intended to serve as a gathering place for sharing food for those living in the surrounding high-rise buildings. The project, which was initiated in 2018, involves multiple partners focused on youth and family programming and will be completed in 2021.