Going for a walk in the woods can seem like the most natural thing in the world for many Canadians. But for over 6 million Canadians with a disability, experiencing the outdoors might not be so easy.
Access to some of Nova Scotia’s more beautiful natural spaces could soon improve thanks to Logan MacDonald’s accessibility audits for the province’s Department of Lands and Forestry.
“It was awesome to travel around the entire province this summer working on a project that will make people’s lives better,” says Logan, whose summer job was funded in part by PLT Canada’s Green Jobs program.
Logan’s work will help Nova Scotia deliver on a commitment to improve accessibility for people with disabilities at provincial parks, campgrounds, and sportfishing sites by 2021. The province has also committed to providing barrier-free access to at least one provincial beach in every region. In fact, workplans for 2020 have already incorporated some of Logan’s work.
There is an ever-increasing demand for outdoor spaces to be designed with accessibility in mind. Several provincial parks departments have committed to doing so, and new national accessibility legislation is influencing Parks Canada’s programs and services.
Logan says Nova Scotia’s accessibility work was guided by design standards from the Rick Hansen Foundation, which is leading a global movement to remove barriers and liberate the potential of people with disabilities. Some of the design standards that informed Logan’s work included:
Based in Truro, in the centre of Nova Scotia, Logan and his summer student partner Kristen Bartmann audited 20 camping parks and 21 parks department offices. After compiling data, they produced three reports and made a presentation to managers and senior departmental staff that Logan said was “well received.”
“Doing the presentation and the report writing was a great way to apply problem-solving and critical thinking in the real world. My summer experience helped improve my understanding of how to view design projects. That will help with my engineering degree,” Logan says.
Logan is a third-year civil engineering student at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. He is putting his summer experience to good use in a course focused on accessible design that is working on improving accessibility in a campus building.
In a sense, Logan is designing for a future that will help all of us get more out of life. From parents pushing strollers to older hikers who may need a ramp or walkway to negotiate some terrain, accessible design keeps us all moving and getting the most out of life.
“Accessibility is good for all of us, and it makes everyone’s quality of life better,” Logan says.
Logan’s Green Job with Nova Scotia Lands and Forestry, like all others funded through Project Learning Tree Canada’s (PLT Canada) Green Jobs program, is supported in large part by strong employer networks at the Canadian Parks Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative.