There are standards and legislation that apply to most trails and it is essential to understand which standards apply to your trail. Depending on the type of trail and its location, these might include government accessibility standards and/or provincial/territorial legislation. Examples include the City of Ottawa Accessibility Design Standards and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
There is also the Government of Canada’s Accessible Canada Act. The Trail section of the Act is currently under development, and once complete, will be voluntary until adopted into regulation. Once it becomes a regulation, it will be mandatory for federal departments and agencies (e.g., Parks Canada) and federally regulated organizations. It may also be a helpful resource to trail organizations in all jurisdictions.
In addition to the enforceable standards, there are additional resources that provide information on how to exceed current standards in order to achieve a higher level of accessibility. For example, many of the items in these guidelines are not included in applicable standards; however, when applied, they will help to create a more accessible trail for everyone.
Another resource is the Canadian Standards Association’s Accessible Design for the Built Environment. These standards include suggested specifications for paths, temporary washrooms, picnic tables and much more.
It is essential to understand and comply with required standards, but to achieve meaningful accessibility for a broad range of users, consider referring to additional resources as well.