Children of all abilities will be able to play in Port Coquitlam, BC,
civic playgrounds in the future, thanks to the city’s leading-edge policy.
City Council adopted a Corporate Accessible Play Spaces Policy on June 10 with the goal of
making all future play spaces and equipment safe and accessible for people of all abilities – starting
with the playground upgrades at Lions Park later this year.
Port Coquitlam is the first community in the Lower Mainland and one of the first in the province to
adopt a formal policy of this type.
“It’s important that all children in our community have opportunities to play, interact with each other
and enjoy being outdoors, regardless of their ability,” Mayor Greg Moore said. “We wouldn’t build a
school with steps that kids with physical disabilities couldn’t get into. We don’t build communities any
more that way. Yet we have these barriers in places where kids go to play. This was the right thing
The need for the policy was identified following an in-house review of the city’s accessible play
spaces and requests from the community. When Parks & Recreation staff contacted other
municipalities to learn about their policies, they found few, if any, had any formal guidelines.
Port Coquitlam’s new policy states that any new or substantially renovated city playgrounds will
meet or exceed the Canadian Standards Association’s standard for accessible play spaces (Annex
H) throughout their lifetime. Annex H provides specifications for playground elements (such as
layout, circulation paths and play components) that are incorporated in the planning process.
While the new policy will not require the retrofitting of existing playgrounds or be imposed on others
who build playgrounds in Port Coquitlam – such as the school district and community groups – the
city encourages the use of the standards in all playgrounds built in the community.
“We’ve already been moving in this direction by adding accessible equipment and surfaces in our
new and renovated playgrounds,” said Cllr. Mike Forrest, chair of the Healthy Committee
Committee. “We wanted to show leadership in this area by formally adopting these standards, not
just complying with them voluntarily. It’s a strong message about how our city values people of all
Being wheelchair accessible is only one aspect of accessible playground design. The planning of
accessible playgrounds must also consider the needs of children with physical, cognitive, seeing
and hearing disabilities, as well as children with complex developmental behavioural conditions,
such as autism.
Accessible playgrounds include barrier-free equipment, increased maneuvering space, accessible
surfacing and paths, and the use of ramps to access elevated play components. While certain
elements can add to the size and cost of the playground, costs can be contained when they are
incorporated in the design stage.
Playgrounds can still contain elements such as slides and climbing structures, but emphasis will be
placed on ensuring children with disabilities are able to enjoy many of the play components. The
goal is for all children to be able to play on or around the accessible playground equipment, while
accommodating the play needs of children with disabilities and caregivers who may themselves
For more information:
Manager, Parks & Services
City of Port Coquitlam Parks & Recreation