Gallery: Northern B.C. gets new accessible resort in Vanderhoof

Wheelchair-bound vacationers now have a new holiday location in northern B.C., thanks to accessibility upgrades to a family-run resort.

Wheelchair-bound vacationers now have a new holiday location in north central B.C., thanks to accessibility upgrades to a family-run wilderness resort.

Located 78 kilometres south of Vanderhoof, Tatuk Lake Wilderness Resort showcased its new accessible cabin and dock lift through an open house event on Sept. 21. Including doorways measuring 36 inches wide, mobile transfer device, hospital bed, as well as a wheelchair-friendly shower, bathroom sink, and toilet, the cabin caters to visitors of different levels of physical ability for day-to-day needs, explained resort co-owner Debbie Still.

Still has a son who relies on a wheelchair, and has managed the resort with her husband as well as her sister’s family since 2007. The property is now the only resort north of Kelowna with handicapped facilities, she said.

“We always include him in all our activities, whether it is fishing or boating, and we want to include others who would like to participate in that,” Still said. “It’s a huge deal to travel with disabilities, finding places that can accommodate with space and beds.”

The upgrades also provide alternative recreation opportunities for those who may not be interested in paralympic sports, realized Still as her family connected with a wheelchair-bound man assisting with vehicle accessibility outfits.

“That’s not his idea of recreation; his idea is to go into the bush and go hunting,” she said. “It would be such a real dream to him.”

Receiving accessibility grant funding last summer, the resort was visited by Lower Mainland-based therapists who provided ideas and connections for equipment to improve the facility’s accessibility, such as how to improve boat safety.

With a wheelchair-bound guest from the West Coast just booked for a two-week holiday to hunt in October, the accessibility project is at its beginner stages — other equipment are in the future plan, dependant on funding, Still said.

“We want to grow on it even more,” she said. “An all-terrain wheelchair will allow them to go on hiking trails along with others, changing the wheels to skis for skiing in the winter.

“Another piece is like a power chair quad, with which people with upper body control can go quadding or hunting independently.”

For Melody Wiebe, whose family was the first to test the accessible cabin, the upgrades work well.

“[The owners] know what’s going to work and doesn’t work,” Wiebe said. “Our son can wheel onto the brand new docks, and he wasn’t running into things in the cabin.”