Kory Heyland may be getting around in a wheelchair, but being able to hike in the midst of nature brings her an unbelievable amount of joy. “It’s freedom for me,” she said. “To enjoy the outdoors and to enjoy nature, it’s good for everyone involved, all ages, and abilities.”
As part of the Access North initiative with the Tabor Mountain Recreation Society and Spinal Cord Injury BC, the newly expanded Great-West Life Mobility Trail at Dougherty Creek launched Saturday. The trail located 23 kilometres south of Prince George, originally opened in September of 2014 as a 450 metre loop and has now been extended. It’s estimated the entire pathway now covers about a kilometre and a half.
Project Manager, Pat Harris, says the trails are developed for people with disabilities, seniors, and families, but everyone is welcome. “We started talking about access, but more importantly about universal design and looking at creating a space here that’s usable by everyone, whether you’re a toddler or a senior and everyone in between.”
Harris mentions it’s all part of the design. “The trails are a gentle slope, they’re hard packed, easy to wheel on, and the gazebos are easily accessible with lovely picnic tables that have extensions on them.”
In addition, MLA for Prince George-Valemount, Shirley Bond says the new trail is a huge opportunity for tourism. “One of the things that Access North is working on is to do an assessment of all the recreation areas and parks in the region so that seniors, people with disabilities and families have a sense of where they can come in British Columbia to enjoy this kind of activity.”
Moving forward, even more work will be done in the Dougherty Creek area. President of the Tabor Mountain Recreation Society, Randy Ellenchuk, says the next project for will be a universal accessible campground in the area. “We’ve already had that engineered and designed and putting everything together we hope to start that early next year sometime, possibly even this fall.”