Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada, the westernmost of Canada's 10 provinces, has a reputation as being one of the most accessible cities in the world for travelers with disabilities.
Home to the 2010 Winter Olympics, the city of Vancouver offers many exciting and unique opportunities. Vancouver is one of the most culturally-diverse cities in the world, blending cultures from many different countries and nations. Vancouver has the second largest Chinatown in North America and Stanley Park, one of the largest city parks around, offers stunning views of downtown, the North Shore, and the mountains surrounding the area. Vancouver offers other interesting sites such as Granville Island, Science World (home of Expo '86) and the Vancouver Aquarium.
Whether using wheelchairs, white canes, seeing eye dogs or hearing aids, Vancouver leads the way in making the area a more livable place for people with disabilities.
This diverse city in southwest British Columbia, Canada, features some very accessible attractions and a great public transportation system. Buses are equipped with ramps for wheelchairs and the Sky Train and SeaBus are also accessible. If you're driving a car, the city has increased the number of parking places for people who need disability access. If you have a disabled parking permit, it is valid in Vancouver.
Vancouver also features innovative housing, and recreational opportunities. For disabled visitors, most attractions and many recreational sites are fully accessible.
Transport to Vancouver City
Airport vehicle rental agencies can provide cars with hand-controls, while the Airporter shuttle bus service can arrange transportation to Vancouver's major hotels. Accessible cabs are also available at the airport.
Vancouver International Airport - As one of the world's most barrier-free airports, YVR exceeds national standards for people with hearing, visual or mobility impairments.
Features include ticket and service counters with amplified handsets; low-mounted flight information monitors; visual paging monitors and public address systems displayed in written form; information kiosks with closed-captioned decoders; tactile guidance maps of the terminal building; accessible public telephones and services for the deaf; and accessible washrooms.
BC Vancouver Ferries - Wheelchair-users planning to use the ferry can request easy-access parking at terminal buildings. All boat washrooms and deck areas are accessible on major ferry routes - decks are accessible by elevator on larger ships. Passengers are requested to call ahead before they travel to access a range of special services.
Vancouver Greyhound Buses - Lift-equipped bus services are offered on Vancouver-bound trips from Kelowna, Calgary and Prince George. Travelers must call at least 48 hours ahead to check available services. Hearing or sight service animals can also travel on Greyhound buses.
Vancouver Pacific Coach Lines - PCL offers accessible bus services between Vancouver and Victoria. Travelers must call 48 hours ahead to check availability.
Transport Around Vancouver
TransLink is one of the very few (if not the only) systems in North America, in which 100% of the vehicles are fully accessible for people with disabilities.
In 2008, the last of the non-accessible trolley buses was retired, and the entire trolley bus fleet is now low-floor accessible, with a retractable ramp to allow wheelchairs and scooters to enter. So now, all buses are either low-floor accessible or have wheelchair lifts. SkyTrain, SeaBus and the West Coast Express commuter rail service are also all accessible. For the traveler, this allows greater freedom to move around Metro Vancouver - and a $9 DayPass gives unlimited travel throughout Metro Vancouver.
Transit - All SeaBus, SkyTrain, B-Line express bus and West Coast Express commuter trains are fully accessible.
Most other Vancouver-area buses have either low floor access or are lift-equipped for wheelchair and scooter access.
All SkyTrain stations are fully accessible.
TransLink also operates the HandyDART transportation service for passengers with wheelchairs or other disabilities. You must be registered with HandyDART to use this service, primarily aimed at local passengers. The TransLink website has information on accessible services in the region.
Vancouver Taxis - Several Vancouver cab operators, including Yellow Cab Company, have wheelchair-accessible vehicles in their fleets. For accessible taxi services, call Vancouver Taxi at 604.255.5111 or 604.871.1111.
Vancouver Accessible Accommodation
Under the Access Canada program, B.C. hotels are rated with one of four levels according to how they address the needs of people with minor to severe disabilities.
Recreation for the Disabled in Vancouver
The Grouse Mountain Skyride offers accessibility on the gondola with 24-hours notice, ask for the sales department at 604.984.0661.
"The BC Sport and Fitness Council for the Disabled" offers competitive and recreational opportunities for disabled skiing, horseback riding, sailing, sledgehockey, ice picking and track & field. For more information, call 604.737.3039.
Most attractions in Vancouver are accessible. Several recreation opportunities are outlined below.
The Mobility Opportunities Society offers disabled sailing and other recreational opportunities - 604.688.6464.
With the BC Parks Disabled Access Pass, people can camp free in provincial parks. Call 250.356.8794.
Rocky Mountain Railtours offers a two-day trip from Vancouver to Jasper or Banff with an overnight stay in an accessible hotel in Kamloops. Please call 604.606.7245 for more information.
Depending on your disability Whistler is generally a friendly environment but be careful of where you will decide to stay as some hotels and condo's may be up a hill and although getting to your hotel room is accessible getting to the village and back may not be.
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