A local resident says the City of Burnaby failed to adequately account for people with disabilities when it moved the wheelchair parking up the hill at Barnet Marine Park.
Marilyn Crosbie, a retired SFU professor, says she regularly goes to the park, on the north side of Burnaby Mountain, and often takes a family member who uses a wheelchair. But now that the parking lot has moved, she’s not sure she’ll be able to take him.
The wheelchair parking at Barnet used to be right next to the park, meaning people could drive right down and get out if they were using a wheelchair. There was also a place to drop people off in the same area, but neither of those is accessible by car anymore. A gate blocks the road that curves down the hill to that area, saying it’s only for service vehicles.
In place of the wheelchair parking sits a row of portable toilets, so Crosbie said she’s not sure why the city made the change. But it will affect her use of the park, she said.
To get to the new parking lot, which includes stalls for people with disabilities, a person using a wheelchair would need to push up a lengthy hill, one she said is not doable for many people, and go over a set of train tracks.
She added she “could not possibly” push her family member up the hill either.
“I don’t know what’s going on. It’s making it inaccessible, basically, for anybody with a disability,” she said, questioning whether the city consulted people with disabilities or organizations representing people with disabilities.
In an email statement, city spokesperson Chris Bryan said the changes were made as a result of the growth in traffic to the park to “manage the flow of pedestrian and vehicle traffic, as well as emergency vehicle access, to ensure safety for all.”
“As with all civic projects, the city consults with engineering and design experts to ensure that we are addressing the concerns of all users, including people with disabilities,” Bryan said.
“In making the changes, we were aware that this meant people with disabilities would have further to travel to the beach. It was not a decision we took lightly. We made efforts to mitigate the impacts, including re-grading the slope as much as possible and creating six parking stalls closest to the beach for people with disabilities in the redesigned east parking lot.”