New Fish Creek Trail Breaks Down Barriers

A new trail at Fish Creek Provincial Park will be named for an Alberta Parks volunteer who fought to make provincial parks more accessible.

Lydia Buhl and Calgary-Shaw MLA Graham Sucha, centre, are joined by Cecile’s friends and family, Alberta Parks’ staff and representatives of the City of Calgary and the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities as they prepare to cut a ribbon to officially unveil Lydia’s daughter’s namesake trail.

The Cecile Buhl One Kilometre Experience incorporates accessible viewpoints, bridge railings and tactile warning surfaces for people with vision loss. It is the first of seven accessible one-kilometre trails being rolled out across the province.

“Being outside can improve your life, reducing stress and bringing joy. For one out of every 10 Albertans, mobility challenges make it difficult to get out and enjoy these spaces. Thanks to advocates like Cecile Buhl, we’re helping more Albertans to get out and explore provincial parks with their friends and families.”

~Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks

Cecile Buhl was an educator and Alberta Parks volunteer who helped the province in its work to better serve Albertans with limited mobility or other disabilities. Just weeks before her death in 2016, she led an accessibility review of the Sikome (Lake) Aquatic Facility in Fish Creek Provincial Park.

“Cecile had a vision. The volunteers and employees who worked on this project put their hearts and souls into it. Nature is what she lived for and that’s where she was happiest. It is an honour and a pleasure that Cecile is being recognized.”

~Lydia Buhl, Cecile Buhl’s mother

Other accessibility features will ensure even more Albertans can enjoy the Fish Creek trail. New signage near the Bow Valley Ranch facility area will facilitate Calgary Transit Access, the city’s door-to-door service for Calgarians with disabilities.

The province is also working with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and the Trans Canada Trail on a pilot project to use an existing GPS-based wayfinding app to help Albertans with vision loss access and experience the trail.

Cecile Buhl trails are already open or nearing completion at Writing-on-Stone, Bow Valley, Pigeon Lake, Lois Hole Centennial, Sir Winston Churchill and Lesser Slave Lake provincial parks.

“By making Alberta’s wonderful parks more accessible, we ensure that every Albertan has an opportunity to connect with nature. I was so pleased that the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities was asked to participate in the Environment and Parks accessibility audit. By working together and listening to each other, we can make our provincial parks system even better.”

~Sheila Serup, chair, Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities

In 2008, Cecile Buhl took part in the Alberta Access Challenge Weekend in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. She wrote a short article on her experience that revealed her love for nature at an early age. The following is an excerpt from her article.

“As a child, before I allowed people to put restrictions on me, I was constantly in the forest behind our house. I would walk with my dog for miles and look for flora and fauna. I would go to the beaver dam and check out how the building was going; along the way I would pick blueberries. In essence, I was just enjoying nature and the quiet solitude that brings peace to one’s soul.”

~Cecile Buhl

Cecile Buhl One Kilometre Experience trails in Alberta

  • Southern Alberta
    • Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park (opening soon)
    • Fish Creek Provincial Park
    • Bow Valley Provincial Park (Mount Lorette)
  • Central Alberta
    • Pigeon Lake Provincial Park
    • Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park (John E. Poole boardwalk)
  • Northern Alberta
    • Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park
    • Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park (opening soon)