Parks, campsites and playgrounds across British Columbia have seen record-high traffic this year and the government is making a push to make them more accessible.
In a press release Friday, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy said changes are being made to make outdoor recreation more accessible and inclusive.
BC Parks says there are more than 23 million visits each year to parks and new welcome signs will be designed with the message that "everyone is welcome in nature."
The signs will be installed at BC Parks entrance points, such as parking lots, kiosks, campgrounds and trailheads.
Kelly Greene, Parliamentary Secretary for Environment, says these initiatives are the beginning of a new renewed commitment and an important step in our long-term commitment to inclusion, equity and diversity.
"Our province is strong because of the diversity of our people, and it is important that our parks system ensures that everyone is welcome and comfortable as they enjoy British Columbia's spectacular outdoors,” said Greene in a written statement.
In addition to the signs, work is being done at the parks to make them more accessible. BC Parks staff took part in accessibility training at the parks to experience what it's like to face accessibility challenges.
A day-use parking lot has been paved at Rathtrevor Beach Park, in Parksville, and trail work is being done at the main day-use area.
The beach area at Loveland Bay, near Campbell River, is being reconstructed with picnic tables, a beach ramp and 21 new campsites.
Power To Be, a non-profit organization that creates access to nature for youth, families and adults living with cognitive, physical, financial and social barriers, says these changes will make people feel like they belong.
"From your earliest days, being in a park gives you a connection to the natural world in a way that only nature can facilitate,” said Carinna Kenigsberg, director of programs and impact. “That connection is something everyone should be able to experience.”
New accessibility information is also being added to the BC Parks website with pictures and descriptions of the facilities for people to view before arriving.