Wheelability Assessment Project
In March 2009, the City of New Westminster received a Built Environment and Active Transportation grant of $25,000 to implement the Wheelability Assessment Project. The purpose of the project was to improve mobility and enhance active transportation options for people who are reliant on scooters, wheelchairs, walkers, walking sticks and other mobility aids.
The project had the following objectives:
- To assess the wheelability of the Uptown and Downtown neighbourhoods.
- To involve mobility aid users, City staff and Councillors in order to facilitate educational opportunities and knowledge exchange.
- To prepare maps identifying gradients, surface treatments, accessibility infrastructure and pedestrian conveniences.
- To share the results of the assessment days with relevant City Departments. These results will inform City policies, practices and design decisions related to wheelability.
From its inception, the project was about involving mobility aid users in assessing the built environment and from this perspective the project exceeded all expectations. The working group, which informed the process, was comprised of mobility aid users and over 30 mobility aid users and their companions took part in the two assessment days. Additionally, 121 mobility aid users completed a survey as to how they move about the two neighbourhoods and the challenges that they face.
The project has generated much interest in the local and national media, with a recent article in Momentum Magazine. Additionally, both the Gerontology Research Centre at Simon Fraser University and the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of British Columbia have expressed an interest in the project, with the latter now looking at New Westminster as a possible site to conduct research dedicated to improving the wheeled mobility of older Canadians.
- Wheelability Assessment Project Update – August 31, 2010
- Wheelability Assessment Report to Council of February 8, 2010
- Wheelability Assessment Map
- Wheelability Assessment Presentation
- Wheelability Assessment Debriefing Notes
- Wheelability Assessment Survey Results
- Wheelability Assessment Project Update
To view the Wheelability Assessment Project Video, go to:
The City, through Social Planning and Parks, Culture and Recreation, received funding from the BC Recreation and Parks Association under the ‘Everybody Active’ initiative to undertake a consultation process with low-income adults in order to better understand their current levels of participation; the barriers and challenges that limit their participation; and the suggestions that they have for improving participation.
The consultation, which involved five social service organizations and 74 low-income adults, confirmed the research findings regarding very low-levels of participation by this population in parks and recreation programming. It also documented that this population faces multiple-barriers to participation. As such, strategies to improve participation will have to be multi-faceted, addressing issues related to cost, as well as other variables such as child minding, information, scheduling and transportation.
The City successfully applied for phase two funding from the BC Recreation and Parks Association. As part of this next phase, a facilitated session was held with Parks, Culture and Recreation staff on November 25, 2009. This session provided an overview of the project and the results and explored ways of improving access for low-income adults. The emphasis was on new and innovative approaches to service delivery, which do not require additional funding or staff resources.