STEPtember is in full swing and the need to get active is on the minds of many. Unfortunately, being fit can be challenging for a person with a disability because of inaccessible fitness facilities.
Challenges and supports
Many gyms lack accessible equipment and people with disabilities are often discouraged from using these spaces due to needing assistance. Not every disabled person is able to have a support staff accompany them to the gym and/or pool. However, most recreation centres (including both pools and gyms) will allow a person to accompany you for free if you do require assistance. In addition to gyms, there are many other supports, services, and recreation facilities that are wheelchair-friendly and available to people with disabilities living in Metro Vancouver. There are also people in various districts who can assist you in making facilities and even curb cuts or bus stops more accessible (for those of you choosing to take steps this September).
The YMCAs in Vancouver and Surrey have pools with lifts, wheelchair-accessible change rooms and recreation programs that are suitable for people with various mobility challenges. There are also other pools, recreation programs, and facilities that are suited for people with mobility challenges and disabilities. Please see below:
Address: 282 W 49th Ave, Vancouver, BC V5Y 2Z5
Phone: (604) 324-9622
Life Fitness weight pully system
Technogym Upper Body Cycling Machine
Water works aquatic program
Gentle Aquafit program
Address: 14988 57 Ave, Surrey, BC V3S 8W7
Phone: (604) 575-9622
Wheelchair accessible pool and weight room
Gentle Joints Aquatic program.
*The YMCA offers a subsidized rate for people with disabilities. You will need to bring in a tax form, photo I.D, and a method of payment (void cheque, pre-authorized payment form or credit card)
Fit 4 Less (North Vancouver) (Also have downtown Location)
Address: 935 Marine Drive Unit 68 North Vancouver, BC V7P 1S3
Phone: (604) 984-2518
Easy to use Equipment
Fully wheel chair accessible washroom and shower
Wheel chair accessible pools:
Address: 4575 Clancy Loranger Way, Vancouver, BC V5Y 2M4
(Zero entry pool)
Phone: (604) 257-8680
*City or Vancouver offers a leisure access pass for low income people which allows for 50% off of admission passes to all city recreation centres. For more information or to apply please click here.
Address: 700 W 57th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6P 1S1
Phone: (604) 321-3231
Accessible change room facilities
*$ 2.00/ drop in swim.
Here is what some of our members had to say in regards to how they keep active:
We go to Art night at Royal Oak and Rumble Street Burnaby. It is wonderful. We go to Bonsor Recreation Centre. They have an elevator which is good. Having sign language skilled staff would be helpful.-CPABC Member
I go to an adapted yoga class at Kits Community Center every Tuesday afternoon. The classes will start again on September 20th. I have been going there ever since the class was offered, about 4 years ago. The room in which it is held is large so it can accommodate people with mobility aids – CPABC Member
Everyone is entitled to accessing fitness and recreation areas. As a person with a disability, you can request changes to facilities and areas in the city. You can request automatic door buttons, curb cuts in sidewalks, and perhaps even pool lifts and ramps into pools. See below for a list of contacts and the appropriate locations:
Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation: Dawn Livesley: Dawn.Livesley@vancouver.ca
Corporation of the District of West Vancouver: email@example.com
City of New Westminster: Parks, Culture & Recreation partners with Fraserside Community Services (519 Seventh Street, 2nd Floor, 604.522.3722 extension 120) in the delivery of our Subsidy Program that provides low income New Westminster residents with program discounts.)
Bowen Island Municipality: Shelley Shannon: SShannon@bimbc.ca
City of Coquitlam: firstname.lastname@example.org or Geri Briggs-Simpson GBriggs-Simpson@coquitlam.ca
City of Port Coquitlam Parks & Recreation: email@example.com or SullivanR@portcoquitlam.ca
City of Richmond Diversity Services: firstname.lastname@example.org or Leslie White Leslie.White@burnaby.ca
Corporation of Delta: Liz Gibson: email@example.com
North Vancouver Recreation and Culture: Vida Sandoughdar: SandoughdarV@NorthVanRec.com Janet Wallace: firstname.lastname@example.org
Port Moody, Tri-Cities: Diane Grayson DGrayson@portmoody.ca
The City of Surrey Parks and Recreation: Jerome Thibaudeau: JThibaudeau@surrey.ca for disability programs: Ross MacDonald: RMacDonald@surrey.ca
The City of Victoria: L.I.F.E. (leisure involvement for Everyone) Sandy Clarke
The Corporation of Delta: Kate Steele KSTEEL@DELTA.CA
Many communities have similar programs and options for creating more accessibility. Check with your municipality or civic government. For a full listing of accessible recreation activities, services, supports, and recreation in the Lower Mainland, click here.
Happy STEPtember! Good luck!
Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada (2015). Retrieved from mssociety.ca/bc: https://mssociety.ca/uploads/files/lmc-recreation-and-leisure-guide-2015.pdf