What you should know about wheelchair access in Vancouver

Our next stop after New York was Vancouver, Canada.

We had a day here before heading to Whistler for a few days and then back in Vancouver for a few more days.

Flying to Vancouver from New York

There are direct flights to Vancouver from New York and we flew Air Canada arriving in just under five hours departing from Newark International Airport, Terminal A.

Security was strict. I could leave my shoes on but had to take off my padded jacket. I waited for a female attendant who padded me down and swabbed my wheelchair. I was cleared and went to find out gate.

Accessible toilet was just a larger cubicle inside the main ladies bathroom (I assume similar for men’s). It’s not signed, anyone is able to use this cubical and this can mean a longer wait. The sink is also outside the cubicle and at the same height as all the others.

We flew on a larger plane. There was a step from the draw bridge to the aircraft which required the aisle chair to be lifted by two airport staff.

Accomodation

We stayed at Residence Inn Marriott. It has large no step entrances with automatic doors and elevator access inside. The check in counter was at a low height. I wasn’t made aware of the challenges until checking in. The staff took on our feedback and did their best to accomodate our needs.

All of the accessible rooms with accessible bathrooms have just one king size bed. The king size bed is also quite high. We requested a trundle type bed which was much lower to the ground. On our return we booked two adjourning rooms.

The bathroom was spacious with a hand held shower and a small bench to sit on. I could fit under the sink and spit my toothpaste after brushing my teeth. The door opens out towards the bed and can hinder access.

Breakfast was a buffet served on level 2.

Travel

We walked and pushed my wheelchair. The footpaths are fairly even and flat. Some have leaf imprint which can make the paths a little bumpy. It can be uphill in parts. I did need some assistance mounting the curb/gutter.

Wheelchair Taxis are a good option when it’s raining. Taxis are available upon request and seem to be easy to come by. I didn’t have a Canadian number but booked through our hotel, asking other taxi drivers in the taxi rank or using the courtesy phone available at some attractions. The bonus is unlike NSW Australia there are no loading fees so the taxi isn’t any more expensive than if you were able bodied.

Attractions

We explored some shops downtown. I didn’t mind strolling around in my wheelchair. The paths were great. Some hills were tricky when wet. The Pacific Center is great.

Vancouver Aquarium is a great rainy day activity with only some attractions outdoors. I really enjoyed the exhibits. There are ramps and elevators. There’s a steep ramp section to be able to see Helen the dolphin underwater which I was comfortable wheeling down but I required assistance uphill from Mum.

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Where do I fit? PHOTO: Heather Swain

Vancouver Museum is another great rainy day activity. I really enjoyed the temporary exhibitions on protests and neon lights. The permanent exhibition on the history of Vancouver was interesting too.

Granville Island is a little bumpy but wheelchair accessible. It’s flat with ramps. There are a few stairs but there will be another exit. There are also plenty of accessible bathrooms.

Granville Bridge is accessible in parts with a brilliant view of Vancouver. To get on the bridge there’s an underpass in a park. To cross the road in parts is difficult without two helpers (we were lucky enough to be offered help) due to two steps.

Seafront & Stanley Park is best enjoyed when it’s not raining. We were lucky enough to have a rain free morning and were ready with an umbrella and rain jackets. The path is flat with a few gradual hills. It’s best to stick to the footpath and not the bike path as bikes have more speed. There are also some disability bathrooms. Keep a lookout for animals. We saw a squirrels and plenty of birds.

Don’t forget your rain jacket when visiting Vancouver

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