What it’s about
Ensuring Whistler is an accessible resort community for people of all abilities, using universal design principles in the development of the built environment.
Whistler’s residents and businesses have adapted to accommodate the changing needs of an aging population. The community understands that universally designed buildings, public spaces and programs not only allow everyone to have the opportunity to enjoy Whistler with dignity and respect, but also support a highly adaptable and sustainable resort economy and community.
Whistler is a leader in inclusive resort communities and maintains this position by monitoring how Whistler is meeting the needs of people with disabilities and staying informed on changing technologies and best practices related to livability, accessibility and inclusion. Whistler recognizes that making the community livable and enjoyable for residents and visitors with disabilities elevates the resort community experience for everyone, thereby strengthening Whistler’s reputation of being socially responsible, while remaining economically viable.
Preparing for and hosting the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games helped accelerate Whistler’s journey toward accessibility and inclusion. As access to services and employment for people with disabilities increases, so too does consumer spending and demand for accessible tourism opportunities both in Whistler and around the world.
In 2018, the Conference Board of Canada published The Business Case for Building Physically Accessible Environments, which noted that the number of Canadians living with a physical disability that affects mobility, vision or hearing will rise from 2.9 million to 3.6 million by 2030. Subsequently, consumer spending by Canadians with physical disabilities is projected to increase by over five per cent over the same period—nearly three times the projected rate of growth for total consumer spending. This projected increase is not likely to be limited to essentials and household goods. In a 2015 study of travel habits of Americans with disabilities, the Open Doors Organization reported that 70 per cent of Americans with disabilities had travelled in the last two years, typically travelling with one or more adults, and having an economic impact on travel of $34.6 billion USD annually. Whistler must recognize that consumer trends are shifting, and businesses and community sports and recreational organizations must adapt to meet these growing demands.
Whistler Adaptive Sports offers over a dozen different adaptive sports opportunities for residents and visitors with disabilities. Meadow Park Sports Centre (MPSC) offers four senior-specific exercise programs, with an additional eight programs that are seniors friendly. Additionally, MPSC is able to provide extra support for any child with a disability participating in its recreation programs. Sea to Sky Community Services offers 10 programs for families of children with disabilities, providing support from infancy into adulthood and two programs that support seniors and their families.
The municipality continues to invest in accessibility improvements in municipal parks and Whistler Village. Aging docks have been replaced with accessible docks in Alpha Lake Park, Wayside Park, Alta Lake Park, Rainbow Park and Lakeside Park, thereby improving access to these community amenities for residents with disabilities. Generally, the municipality seeks to replace aging infrastructure and site furnishings with accessible alternatives whenever possible.
Implementation of accessibility initiatives has been supported by the municipality’s participation in the B.C. government’s Measuring Up program and through its own initiatives including the creation of the Measuring-Up Select Committee of Council.
As further accessibility policy is developed, the municipality will seek to create a built environment that supports a positive resort experience for people of all abilities.
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8.8. Goal Ensure Whistler is an inclusive and accessible resort community.
Encourage and promote Universal Design principles in the development and maintenance of Whistler’s built environment.
Encourage development and redevelopment to implement Universal Design principles.
Encourage recreation activity operators to implement Universal Design principles.
Promote land use patterns, transportation routes and community facilities, amenities and spaces that meet the needs of an aging demographic.
Create a positive resort experience for people of all ages and abilities.
Collaborate with community partners to monitor and evaluate the needs of residents and visitors with disabilities and work collectively to adapt programs, the built environment and the overall resort experience to meet these needs.