The 2010 Paralympic Winter Games brought awareness of disabled sport to a new level. The Games also brought Whistler Village to a new level of accessibility, with Whistler Olympic Plaza representing the new the gold standard for accessible venues.
Whistler has always prided itself in providing outstanding opportunities for disabled sport. Thanks to groups like Whistler Adaptive Sports Program and the BC Disabled Ski Team, the community enjoys a high level of awareness around accessibility issues and a commitment to ensuring everyone — regardless of ability — can enjoy Whistler and all its athletic, social and cultural offerings.
Today, the majority of Whistler businesses, from retail outlets to nightclubs, are accessible. To easily identify accessibility levels, the community employs a signage program denoting if people with mobility, hearing or visual impairment can independently access the premises.
As Host Mountain Resort for the 2010 Winter Games, Whistler was proud to host approximately 90 per cent of the Paralympic events. This designation and accompanying funding, gave Whistler the opportunity to substantially build on its international reputation as an accessible destination and grow visitation with all guests, including those with disabilities.
Throughout Whistler Village, navigational improvements (including audible intersection crossing signals, and textured sidewalk ends) were implemented for persons with visual and hearing disabilities, setting new standards for accessible sidewalks. Whistler's Accessibility Map which details pathways, ramps, accessible entrances and accessible restrooms was also developed in the lead up to the 2010 Winter Games.
Venues constructed for the 2010 Winter Games (Medals Plaza, Whistler Olympic Park, the Whistler Sliding Centre) were built with accessibility top of mind. Spectators, athletes and crew with mobility, hearing or visual disability were always able to easily access these accessible venues.
The newly named Whistler Olympic Plaza builds on the Paralympic legacy of increased accessibility for Whistler Village. From one end of The Plaza to the other, people using wheelchairs can wheel along a network of low-grade (less than five per cent) ramps. Raised viewing areas for wheelchairs and scooters will make performances more enjoyable for those with mobility issues. And the 4,000 sq m inclusive playground meets the needs of children with disabilities (or children with parents with disabilities) to allow side-by-side play with their friends, families, and caregivers.
In fact, all of the public and work spaces at Whistler Olympic Plaza are fully accessible, making it truly a place for everyone.
Whistler Olympic Plaza, let the future begin.