Torona, The Six, The T-dot. Our fair city, a major metropolis in Canada, is home to a variety of people with diverse backgrounds, identities and experiences. And with the city reopening ever so slightly and the warm weather here, they all want to go out and experience the great outdoors. Often overlooked and not discussed, however, is accessibility in public places.
Accessible Design or Universal Design is the method of designing public places for everyone. To be inclusive is to be aware of those with impairments or restrictions, from visual to hearing to mobility and movement. Accommodation extends beyond people with disabilities. For example, we also have new parents with strollers and a variety of health conditions to consider. Sometimes it is hard to understand unless you have firsthand experience. Check out The City of Toronto’s Accessibility Design Guidelines for more details about things you may have noticed throughout the city to make it more inclusive. Tali Osbourne, a Torontonian with a physical disability, outlines her experience in this Azure Magazine article.
Alas, there is certainly more to be done to accommodate all Torontonians. After all, having foot and muscle pain should not prevent you from enjoying the great outdoors and all the city has to offer during the summer, nor should it be a barrier to fitness and living an active lifestyle.
So, where are some outdoor accessible public places to visit and stay active in the summer? We’ve rounded up some spots for you to check out that are all-inclusive, whether you’re just hanging out and relaxing, or want a nice space for your favourite fitness activities!
Douglas Snow Aquatic Centre
Nothing says summer like swimming – whether it’s indoors or outdoors. The City of Toronto has ten community centre locations and two swimming pools that are not only accessible and inclusive, but provide a wonderful venue for people of all abilities to stay active. One of our favourites is the physical therapy pool at Douglas Snow Aquatic Centre, located in Mel Lastman Square in North York. Swimming is one of the best and most accessible fitness activities. It’s low-impact, so you get a super-effective without the joint strain. Not only is the pool here available for physiotherapy and rehabilitation activities (so you don’t have to fight with crowds and swimmers wandering into your space), there is also a warm-water therapeutic pool, which is great for people with arthritis. Best of all, the facilities are barrier-free.
Click here for more information about the City of Toronto’s Accessible Recreation Facilitation & Equipment. These facilities range from therapeutic warm water swimming pools, to hydrotherapy and aquafit classes, to inclusive fitness facilities and parkgrounds.
This stretch along Lake Ontario is a well-known retreat from the hustle and bustle of downtown. Harbourfront spans across the lower half of the city; condos and office spaces are fortunate enough to be close by for daily access. The path is approachable to those with physical disabilities and has a breadth of space for all passersby. It makes for a great, barrier-free scenic space to squeeze in some physical activity at your own pace.
The Harbourfront Centre is also wheelchair accessible should you wish to attend an event there!
With an accessible ferry and accessible washrooms on the islands themselves, Toronto Islands is an inclusive, barrier-free recreation destination. For a bit of adventure, it’s worth the ferry ride over to the Toronto Islands to explore. Please note that during COVID, some restrictions are imposed upon ferry usage and the activities on the islands. To review the likes of Centreville or The Beaches, you can visit their sites directly.
Riverdale Park East
This park has a pergola, an outdoor pool, multipurpose sports fields, and a Commemorative AccessAbility® Table, which is a universally designed accessible picnic table ideal for outdoor recreation areas. This park is located at 550 Broadview Avenue, in the greenbelt just East of the DVP and south of Danforth. Whether you’re gathering with friends and family for a picnic, looking for a scenic outdoor fitness venue, or swimming in the sunshine, this park has it all!
Need Help Keeping Your Feet Healthy?
We love to help our clients to improve their accessibility and are always on the hunt for great Toronto destinations. Not just in the summer, but year-round! Give us a call today at Feet First (416.769.3338 (FEET) to book your appointment.