2015 Disabled Persons and Discounts in Parks

2015 Jurisdictional Scan: Persons with Disabilities and Discounts
Does your jurisdiction offer discounts to persons with disabilities?
JURISDICTIONREPLIEDYES/NOCONTACT NAME
B.C PARKSYESLynn Bremner
COMMENTS: Does your park system define a disabled person? BC Parks defers to definitions (qualification criteria) established by other provincial Ministries responsible for designating persons with disabilities.   Please provide the definition of a disabled person.   Park Act, BC Parks Recreation User Fees Regulation s.10 provides exemption from frontcountry camping fees for park visitors who produce ‘approved’ evidence of receiving disability assistance. Since 2002, BC Parks’ policy has relied on eligibility processes established by selected provincial and federal ministries responsible for persons with disabilities. In order to receive fee exemption, campers who qualify under these programs must provide to park operators proof of receiving disability assistance issued by these authorities.   Park visitors who currently qualify for the camping fee exemption are: Adults designated by the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation (MSDSI) as “persons with disabilities” (PWD) and currently receiving disability benefits from the Ministry’s Employment and Assistance Program. Personal earnings and assets are regularly evaluated by MSDSI as part of this eligibility process. Children registered with and receiving benefits from the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD)’s “At Home Program.” Family earnings and assets are not assessed by MCFD in determining a child’s eligibility for this program. Persons living on-reserve and receiving disability benefits from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC). Personal earnings and assets are evaluated by AANDC as part of this eligibility process.   Park visitors with disabilities must provide to park operators one of the following approved forms each time they camp: An original signed current calendar year Release of Personal Information (RPI) form from MSDSI,An original signed Letter of Eligibility from MCFD,An original signed current calendar year form or letter from AANDC, and a second piece of identification.   Do you offer a reduced fee for someone who has a disability? Qualified park visitors with disabilities who produce the necessary documentation (above) can camp for free in a frontcountry campsite. Any extra fees for firewood, electrical surcharges, reservation fees, etc. apply. This fee exemption does not apply to backcountry, group or marine camping. Park visitors must comply with all Park Act regulations, e.g., as long as their camping party meets the ‘party size’ (up to 8 people, no more than 4 adults, 1 RV etc.) as defined in regulation, their entire party is exempt from paying the 1 camping fee, their stay must not exceed 14 days (in a 1 park) etc.   What type of identification do you ask for from the person with a disability? Proof must be provided to them by the applicable (disability) Ministry and park visitors arriving to the campground must show park operators this document each time they camp ( + a second piece of personal id). See above.  
ALBERTA PARKSYESDon Carruther Den Hoed
COMMENTS: Does your park system define a disabled person? If so is the disabled person defined in a regulation or in policy? Please provide the definition of a disabled person. We explicitly mention physical and mental disabilities in the inclusion plan. It builds on the Alberta Human Rights Act and recognizes the “inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all persons […] without regard to race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation.” The inclusion plan builds on the Alberta Human Rights Act through a commitment in Alberta’s Plan for Parks to “increase opportunities for, and invite full participation of, all Albertans.”   Otherwise, in practice, we have three approaches:  Use of disabled access campsites is limited to those who can present a disabled vehicle Placard. (Link in resources below) William Watson Lodge offers barrier-free fixed-roof accommodation, camping, and comfort camping uses a three-tier system based on competing an eligibility form, and then assessed by lodge staff. They generally err to the side of inclusion.   Reservation Priorities For persons with disabilities residing in the province of Alberta Reservations may be made up to 4 months in advance for severely disabled Albertans (nonambulatory, legally blind, profoundly deaf, dependently cognitively disabled). For example, to book for the month of July, call on the first working day in April. Reservations may be made up to 3 months in advance for less severely disabled Albertans (semi-ambulatory, medically fragile). Please complete the eligibility form available from the Lodge.   For Alberta seniors (65 years and older) Reservations may be made up to 2 months in advance, space permitting. Finally, Peaceful Valley Day Lodge offers an accessible group day use experience for “elderly, physically challenged, and terminally ill visitors.” These are assessed by the reservation agent in Alberta Culture. As far as I know, actual use is pretty much limited to seniors’ homes. Do you offer a reduced fee for someone who has a disability? Only at William Watson Lodge, based in the criteria mentioned above. Rates are subsidized $30-$40 per night for an entire cabin/4 people, or $16/night for camping (vs. $26 in other similar campgrounds).   I believe use of Peaceful Valley is free, though I think they accept donations.   The Alberta Parks Inclusion Plan recommends introducing fee reductions for Albertans who are on the AISH program (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped). This could allow for more than just camping breaks, like bus tour, ski day-use fee, or guided program discounts, and would operate similarly to the Cultural Access Pass. The plan also calls for an exploration of pay-what-you-can fees in certain circumstances.   What type of identification do you ask for from the person with a disability? Disabled placard or completed self-identification eligibility form at William Watson Lodge.   1. Does Ontario Parks want to continue to provide special consideration for persons with disabilities? Its a good question, and an opportunity to foster inclusion, but if someone can afford to camp in the first place the discounted fee probably won’t make enough of a difference to truly remove a barrier. Maybe you should charge the same, but invest a portion of the fee collected from all people with disabilities into a program to create more barrier-free opportunities, including day use sites. Overall, the discount is not usually the important thing – the accessible experience is.   1. What criteria will Ontario Parks consider to be an eligible disability? If you have a program similar to AISH, it’s at least tied to income. That might be a good mechanism. Maybe even give camping vouchers or a cultural access pass type card to people in that program. Income level is used by the city of Calgary and city of Edmonton parks and recreation to provide fee assistance.   2. What acceptable documentation is needed to prove a disability? The vehicle placards and the CNIB cards are a good start, but the challenge with both is that they don’t connect to actual income barriers. You could create a fee assistance program where people apply similar to William Watson lodge, but it’s administratively time consuming.   In general, though, self-identification is probably good enough. Not a lot of people want to pretend to be disabled and publicly use sites with disabled placards. And those that do are usually easy to identify and then work with to find an alternative approach.   3. What special consideration in the form of reduced fees, rebates, alternative licences etc. should Ontario Parks provide for eligible persons with a disability? The most important question is: why are you considering these breaks in the first place?   Is the cost the barrier? Or is the set of stairs on to the dock the problem? Are people excluded because they can’t see? Or because they don’t feel welcome? Do people need access to tents and stoves, rather than simply fee breaks? Is the best way to include persons with disabilities camping at all? Maybe day use or fishing – or internships and employment opportunities – are better…
SASKATCHEWAN PARKSNOBrenda Johnson
COMMENTS: The Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport in the Province of Saskatchewan has not defined a disabled person in any policy or any regulations. In the Minister’s Order for Provincial Parks rates and fees (2015-16 operating season), there are no reduced rates for vehicle entry permits for disabled individuals. In our 2015 Saskatchewan Parks guide, the following narrative is included in the section labelled “Important information”: Barrier-Free Some provincial parks offer barrier-free camping and recreational activities, including accessible trails for persons with mobility challenges. We make every effort to accommodate your needs. Barrier-free campsites are available for visitors displaying a valid “parking for those with disabilities” permit. Barrier-free campsites can be reserved online or through the call centre.
MANITOBA PARKSNOElisabeth Ostrop
COMMENTS: Manitoba Provincial Parks does not offer discounted park entry to people with a disability. Our park entry fees are set on a per vehicle basis. There are all kinds of disabilities with a range of accommodations that could/should be made. We have typically focused on making things wheelchair accessible, as there are many who could benefit from larger stalls or even surfaces (families with young children, seniors using walkers etc.) We do offer the following: Approximately 50% of our Yurt installations are disabled accessible. This means the yurt entrance has a ramp. The picnic table will have an extended top making it wheelchair accessible. Similarly any new rental cabins we build, half are wheelchair accessible. Where possible we have made adjustments to older structures.All of our new washroom and shower buildings are able to accommodate wheelchairsWe have disabled accessible campsites, which have an even surface, and additional space between table and fire pit. The picnic table also has an extended end. These sites are located within a shorter distance to an accessible washroom facility, and the trail up to the washroom also has a level surface.Interpretive panels are placed at an angle and low enough to the ground so that someone in a wheelchair could easily access the information.In some locations we offer disabled accessible campsites to seasonal camping patrons. We have a draw process to allocate seasonal campsites and those with accessibility issues have an opportunity to jump to the front of the queue. They must submit a Dr’s note with their application outlining their requirement for an accessible site. (for some it means electrical service). They still pay the same fee.We have a few disabled accessible fishing platforms. In the future we will incorporate touch plates for the visually impaired on the outside of washroom/shower buildings and other locations where that might be feasible.
ONTARIO PARKSInquiring Jurisdiction  Greg Wake
SEPAQ (QUEBEC)  SOMEWHATMylène Pronovost
COMMENTS: Here are a few answers regarding your questions about disabled persons. In our national parks network, the admission to the parks is free for a person accompanying a disabled person who would not otherwise have access to the park, be able to get around in the park, or participate in an activity. Other than that, there is no discount for activities, lodging or services. We do not ask for a specific document : some people present us with a parking sticker, but there is no official document needed. It is easier to see for people in wheelchairs, but we also apply the accompanist free admission for intellectual disabilities, etc.   Take note that there is an organization in the province of Quebec, Keroul, who promote the tourism accessibility (link in resources below).  
NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADORNOGeoff Bailey
COMMENTS: In answer to your questions. We don’t define disabled clients since there are no discounts for those clients. Questions: Does your park system define a disabled person? No. provincially we have an Disability Policy Office. Do you offer a reduced fee for someone who has a disability?  No What type of identification do you ask for from the person with a Disability?  Nothing
NOVA SCOTIANOBrian Kinsman
COMMENTS: Nova Scotia provincial parks does not define a disabled person in policy or regulation. Neither do we offer reduced fees for someone with a disability.  
PARKS NEW BRUNSWICKNOLynn White
COMMENTS: Currently, the New Brunswick Parks Act does not include a definition for disabled persons nor do we offer reduced fees to persons with disabilities.   That being said, the question of including discounted rates for disabled persons within our fee structure has come up recently. I am about to embark on the same research that you are conducting now, so your email is very timely. Would you be willing to share the info you receive from other jurisdictions? It would greatly help me as we try to answer basically the same fundamental questions Ontario Parks is asking.
P.E.I PARKSYESShane Arbing
COMMENTS: PEI does offer a discount to disabled campers. Identification (ie. accessible parking permit, CNIB card).
GOVERNMENT OF NORTHWEST TERRITORIESNORichard Zieba
COMMENTS: No to all questions
NUNAVUT PARKSX  
YUKON PARKSNOEric Schroff
COMMENTS: No to all questions
PARKS CANADASOMEWHATÉlisabeth Lacoursière
COMMENTS: Please see attached the definition the GoC is using for persons with disabilities: However, when it comes to the definition we use for our client service, it differs a bit, as explained below.   Does your park system define a disabled person? If so is the disabled person defined in a regulation or in policy? Please provide the definition of a disabled person. Disability: Any physical or mental condition which may affect an individual’s opportunity to understand, appreciate and enjoy completely or partially park heritage resources (adapted from the definition by the Canadian Organizing Committee for 1981 [International Year of Disabled Persons]). Handicap: A condition which arises from an environmental situation such as an obstacle created by the design, operation or location of a Parks Canada facility which prevents an individual from understanding, appreciating or enjoying completely or partially park heritage resources (adapted from the definition by the Canadian Organizing Committee for 1981 [International Year of Disabled Persons]). Do you offer a reduced fee for someone who has a disability? No. We aim for universal design solutions to serve a range of needs in accessing experiences. What type of identification do you ask for from the person with a disability? We trust self-identification.   Two specific scenarios come to mind that the service team has advised on: a) Service animals: Our guidance to date has been that if a visitor identifies their animal as a service animal we don’t question it.  b) Requests for sign language interpretation: there is a legal ruling that if a visitor requests a sign language interpreter with sufficient advance notice we will arrange for it.   Another accessibility consideration comes into play when the person with a disability is accompanied by a support person. Good service practice would be to offer free entry to the support person, and this is articulated in the User Fees and Revenue Management Policy, excerpted here: 7. User fees will not be charged for: … f) accredited escorts of disabled people when participating in a provincially recognized program (entry, heritage presentation special programs)  

Response Rate: 12/13 for 92%

Key Findings:

Questions:

  • Does your park system define a disabled person? If so is the disabled person defined in a regulation or in policy? Please provide the definition of a disabled person.
    • Jurisdictions often use Provincial/National/Other Ministry definitions, if anything, of Disability/Disabled Person. Parks specific definitions are rare.
  • Do you offer a reduced fee for someone who has a disability?
    • Focus is placed on accessible services/facilities as the barrier to engagement. Finances not normally identified as the primary barrier to engagement for persons with disabilities.
    • That being said, where finances are identified as a barrier, as with AISH (see Alberta comment section), it is recommended that fee reductions be introduced
    • Waving of user fee for persons accompanying a person with a disability identified as a good service practice.
  • What type of identification do you ask for from the person with a disability?
    • Self Identification or Placards most reportedly used
    • B.C, which offers one of the largest discounts,  (free frontcountry camping), requires most significant identification (see B.C comment section)

Other:

  • The concept of reduced fees for persons with disabilities seems to be often based on the concept of the limited accessibility of the experience to those persons. Rather than accept this reality and try to “make up for it” with a discount, jurisdictions seem to be trying to remedy the issue of access with universal design and inclusive services so that persons with disabilities are not missing any components of the parks experience.

Future Questions to Ask:

  • Although finances may not be the primary barrier to access for people with disabilities, could a financial incentive encourage those who have been previously excluded from a setting to engage with the experience?
  • Many jurisdictions do not yet seem to have any policies regarding persons with disabilities. Those that do seem to have extensive Inclusivity Policies and Guidelines. Is it possible to encourage jurisdictions without policies to adopt and adapt existing policies into their procedures? What resources would they need to accomplish this?

Links to Resources:

  • Alberta Parks Inclusion Plan:
http://www.albertaparks.ca/media/5143694/everyone-belongs-outside.pdf
  • Peaceful Valley Day Lodge:
http://www.albertaparks.ca/peaceful-valley/information-facilities/peaceful-valley-day-lodge.aspx
  • Keroul Quebec:
http://www.keroul.qc.ca/en/home.html

Original Email Request for Scan:

Dawn

I was hoping you could send this request out to CPC members to pass along to appropriate staff to reply to my questions below.

Background information on the current situation in Ontario Parks regarding the definition of a disabled person and the discounts allowed to use our parks for the day or camp overnight.

Fee discounts for persons with a disability. A Regulation approved by Cabinet under the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act 2006 defines a disabled person as a resident of Ontario who holds a disabled persons parking permit issued under the Highway Traffic Act, or a National Identity Card issued by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. The Ontario Parks disabled persons fee discount applies only to those who meet this definition. Ontario Parks does not limit use of parks by disabled persons, but we do restrict eligibility for the fee discount.

Without a disabled parking permit or a CNIB identity card at present a person would not qualify for the discounted fees. Discount rates are offered in recognition of the fact that persons in the above mentioned two categories cannot fully enjoy the majority of the facilities and programs offered by the park, such as trails and beaches; their physical disabilities do not allow them to do so. Other agencies and governments may recognize a wider range of disabilities, such as autism, diabetes, epilepsy, learning disabilities and hearing impairment, depending on the organization. All of these disabilities present daily challenges to disabled persons but they do not significantly affect an individual’s physical ability to use provincial park facilities. These discounts are not based on financial hardship or other financial tests; they are based solely on the physical enjoyment of the park.

The actual definition under Regulation 347 under the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006 is a follows:

“disabled person” means a resident of Ontario who is the holder of an accessible parking permit issued under Regulation 581 of the Revised Regulations of Ontario (Accessible Parking for Persons with Disabilities) made under the Highway Traffic Act or a national identity card issued by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind ; (O. Reg. 165/10, s.1(1).)

The definition of a disabled person is in ONTARIO REGULATION 347/07 made under the PPCRA in section 1 which states:

“disabled person” means a resident of Ontario who is the holder of an accessible parking permit issued under Regulation 581 of the Revised Regulations of Ontario, 1990 (Accessible Parking for Persons with Disabilities) made under the Highway Traffic Act or a national identity card

issued by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind;

The PPCRA gives the Minister the power to set fees in section 26:

26. (1) The Minister may establish and charge,

(a) fees for entrance into provincial parks of persons, vehicles, boats or

Aircraft;

(b) fees for the use of provincial parks or of any facilities or services in

provincial parks;

Questions:

1. Does your park system define a disabled person? If so is the disabled person defined in a regulation or in policy? Please provide the definition of a disabled person.

2. Do you offer a reduced fee for someone who has a disability?

3. What type of identification do you ask for from the person with a disability?

The fundamental questions we are asking ourselves related to disabled persons are:

1. Does Ontario Parks want to continue to provide special consideration for persons with

disabilities?

2. If yes,

1. What criteria will Ontario Parks consider to be an eligible disability?

2. What acceptable documentation is needed to prove a disability?

3.What special consideration in the form of reduced fees, rebates, alternative licences etc. should Ontario Parks provide for eligible persons with a disability?

Appreciate your assistance