Accessible infrastructure needs improvement at Sun Peaks Resort

Sun Peaks village is seen from above during the summer, with forests and green ski runs surrounding it on the left and right.
Sun Peaks Resort can improve accessibility for visitors to the resort, according to a representative from Adaptive Sports Sun Peaks. Photo by Kyle James.

Adaptive Sports Sun Peaks (ASSP) has recommended Sun Peak Resort (SPR) engage in an official accessibility audit after an informal consultation between the resort and the group that instructs adaptive sports.

​​Katherine Campbell, program manager for ASSP and Riann Batch, president for ASSP, met with staff from SPR in early June to discuss which accessibility needs are fulfilled and what can be improved for people visiting the resort. The areas in most need of accessibility improvements, according to ASSP, include washroom facilities, parking areas, signage and access to information about accessibility on SPR’s website.

Barriers to accessible bathrooms

While the Annex, the Village Day Lodge and Sundance Lodge have bathroom facilities available, Campbell told SPIN there are barriers to people using each building’s facilities.

“The Annex is considered a building that has accessible bathrooms because there’s no stairs and the bathrooms are levelled,” Campbell explained. 

However, access to the family bathroom in the Annex requires a key.

“It’s not really an accessible bathroom if it’s locked and you have to go get the key from somewhere,” Campbell said.

She noted the Annex is often crowded, and it can be difficult to navigate the space.

The bathrooms in the Village Day Lodge are in the basement of the building and the elevator also requires a key from the activities desk, according to Campbell.

Sunburst Lodge, a restaurant at the top of the Sunburst Express chairlift, also has problems in terms of access for people with physical disabilities.

“If you’re in a sit ski, you need to transport yourself out of it into a wheelchair,” Campbell explained. “There’s no wheelchair there. So someone in a sit ski can’t utilize that facility.”

The proposed new Burfield parking lot will have an accessible washroom, according to a presentation by SPR to council about the proposed development.

Parking access and signage improvements

Accessible parking is available at the Annex and the Village Day Lodge, but Campbell said there should be more parking stalls that are wider, with clear signage for pickup and drop off locations. 

The current signs for accessible parking say “handicap parking,” and Campbell would like to see updated signs with modern language.

In addition, these spots require better snow removal and other parking lots need designated accessible parking spaces.

Currently, I believe we have accessible parking right by the Annex and at the [Village Day Lodge],” Campbell said. “But you actually can’t get out of it and then make your way to the amenities because it’s identified as an accessible spot but then it’s not shovelled.”

Lastly, she noted many people use the spaces for picking up and dropping off visitors instead of the designated area by the playground. She suggested implementing clearer signage so people know where they should go.

Online information

She also suggested SPR have information about accessible services readily available on SPR’s website.

“We talked a lot about the Sun Peaks Resort website [including] an accessible tab that shouts loud and proud what the accessible features of the resort are,” Campbell explained.

Proposed features for  SPR’s website included the location of accessible bathrooms, which hotels have accessible features and a link to Adaptive Sports.

SPR’s website currently has a page that links to Adaptive Sports, but Cambell wants to see more integration online regarding accessible services offered at the resort.

“We recommended that their marketing and communications people work on letting the universe know how accessible the resort is and what kinds of activities people could do here,” she said.

Campbell highlighted the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association’s (TOTA) page as a great example of how tourism websites can include accessibility as part of information sharing.

The website’s page includes definitions on accessibility and inclusion, and current initiatives like TOTA’s mapping project, whichprovides virtual tours of various places in Thompson-Okanagen that allows for planning visits in advance based on accessibility needs.

Because she isn’t an expert in accessibility, Campbell has recommended SPR engage in an official accessibility audit to help develop a plan for increasing access to the resort for all people.

SPIN has reached out multiple times for comment from SPR but not hear back in time for publication.

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