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Accessibility at the Robert Bateman Gallery in Victoria, BC
Home > Victoria for All: Accessible Travel

Accessible Travel Itinerary

Victoria is for everyone! Discover a one-of-a-kindland on the Pacific coast at your own pace, in your own style. Treat yourself like royalty at one of our accessible boutique hotels, enjoy fine art that connects our wild west coast roots to our contemporary Canadian culture, and savour the freshest local oysters. With so much to see and explore, Victoria is your next accessible vacation destination.

Suggested Accommodation: Delta Hotels by Marriott Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort

Situated across from the inner harbour and perched on the picturesque Songhees Waterfront in Victoria is the Delta Hotels by Marriott Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort,  one of the city’s most beautiful and upscale hotels. The Delta Oceanpointe offers a deluxe experience whether you’re visiting or just checking in for some well deserved me time. The hotel is extremely wheelchair accessible, starting from the moment you drive up and are greeted by the friendly doorman, who offers valet service or directs you to the nearby parkade (with accessible spots). 

On to the hotel and some more accessibility details, the step free entrance has automatic sliding glass doors and once inside, the lobby features stunning floor-to-very-tall ceiling windows, which showcase the city’s world class inner harbour. The front desk has a lowered check in counter, which makes registration a breeze. Staff are extremely pleasant and anxious to ensure that your experience is top notch. Just off the lobby there are wheelchair accessible bathrooms. There is a ramp which takes a wheelchair user down to the sunken part of the lobby, which is accessed by going past the front desk and down a hallway to Lure, the restaurant. Once inside Lure, there is a ramp which gently winds down to the restaurant and lower lobby level. 

Up in the accessible room, the bedroom is very well designed for folks who use a mobility device. The room has a closet with both lower cupboards and a lowered clothes rack, which are features specifically designed for folks with disabilities. The bed height is lower than the standard height, and light switches, thermostats and hooks are all positioned at the correct level to facilitate ease of use. The large bathroom is extremely well designed with a roll in shower, a universal height toilet with grab bars and a sink with space underneath for leg clearance. From what I’ve seen of accessible hotel rooms in this city, and I haven’t seen all of them by any stretch, this is one of the very best accessible suites. 

Suggested Accommodation: Oak Bay Beach Hotel

In the heart of Oak Bay, known for its beautiful character homes and sandy beaches, is the much loved luxury hotel, Oak Bay Beach Hotel, which offers deluxe lodgings with some accessible suites, which could work for folks with disabilities. The hotel is in a prime waterfront location and offers stunning views of the manicured property and across the water to the San Juan Islands, with Mount Baker in the distance. 

Rebuilt recently in the traditional English manor style that the historic hotel had always been, it has many features that are wheelchair-friendly, starting with the underground parking with accessible spots close to the elevator. The lobby is sumptuously decorated, largely barrier-free, with gorgeous wood paneling, warm lighting, tasteful furnishings, and views over the pools to the ocean. Staff are extremely pleasant, and eager to make your experience as pleasurable and relaxing as possible.

The sumptuous accessible suites, which are spacious and tastefully decorated, have kitchenette facilities which are not specifically designed for folks who use wheelchair/scooters as they don’t have an open space beneath the sink to provide leg clearance. The restroom is very large, which is lovely, but unfortunately the vessel sinks sit on the countertop, which makes them quite high and not comfortable for folks who use a mobility device. The toilet is in its own dedicated small room within the bathroom itself. This would likely prove difficult for wheelchair users even though there is a grab bar, as the space is very tiny. Similarly the shower would present a challenge to folks who require a roll-in shower because it has a significant ledge which needs to be stepped over in order to get in. There are grab bars in the shower, and a shower seat upon request.

The gorgeous grounds are accessed by way of a concrete path which winds through the manicured gardens to the mineral pools, around the accessible Boathouse Spa, and down towards the waterfront. There is a small lift to accommodate a minor elevation change. The views are simply stunning.

The Oak Bay Beach Hotel is a combination of luxury and five star service, and worthy of a visit if only to dine in one of the three highly recommended restaurants; The Dining Room (upscale and intimate), the Snug Pub (comfortable classics) and Faro Handcrafted Pizza and Tasting Room.

Day One:

Twenty-five kilometres north of Victoria on the Saanich Peninsula is the Victoria International Airport. Although YYJ is not a large airport, it is modern, beautiful and the pride of the city. Extensive renovations and ongoing upgrades have ensured that travellers have a streamlined and pleasant experience. 

Accessibility is taken very seriously at YYJ, as I found out recently while visiting for a tour of the terminal. Parking lots are located close by to the terminal, and several accessible spaces are available. There are designated curbside unloading zones next to the arrivals and departure terminals for passengers with reduced mobility.

Once inside the terminal, there are designated self-service check-in kiosks for folks with disabilities. Lowered check-in ticket counter ledges for wheelchair users make checking in more comfortable. Commissionaires and Red Coat Host Volunteers (identified by their bright red blazers) are available to provide assistance and are stationed throughout the terminal. The terminal building uses large signage with contrasting colours for those with visual impairments, and there is braille signage located at washroom entrances, as well in the elevator. All ATMs are equipped with tactile markers. 

There’s a reason why YYJ, Victoria’s International Airport, holds Rick Hansen Foundation Gold Certification accessibility status. Go check it out for yourself!

Located in the heart of Central Saanich, close to the world famous Butchart Gardens, is a local attraction sure to delight all ages. The Victoria Butterfly Gardens were opened in 2008 and has been pleasing fans of butterflies (and other interesting creatures) ever since. I popped by recently and enjoyed all that I saw, which was a lot! Along the way, I was pleased to see that the facility is wheelchair/scooter friendly. 

To access the front door, there is a ramp which takes you from the parking lot to the sidewalk level and on to the entrance. Once inside the building, there is an area with a kiosk to pay, and then on to the main show! There are two sets of doors to enter the butterfly zone, which do not have automatic push plate door openers. Upon entering, the temperature is a steamy 25.5°C, with humidity at 80%, so dress appropriately.
Once inside this tropical gem, a wonderful collection of parrots, turtles, flamingos, fish, plus lots of butterflies (in various life stages) are set amongst lush vegetation in a barrier free area. The path is made of a stamped concrete treatment, which I found easy to traverse. A beautiful stream runs through the garden teeming with colourful koi fish. Benches are regularly situated along the path, and selfie opportunities abound!

A quick glance at Ithaka Greek restaurant from the street and you might think there was no way that it’s an accessible place to eat, but it absolutely is. This is great news as once inside the unique building, the food, atmosphere and service make Ithaca a lovely spot for a special occasion, a romantic evening or dinner with friends.

For folks who use a mobility aid there is a large ramp on the west side of the building. A quick call to the restaurant to let them know that you will be using the ramp is all that needs to ensure that a server will be ready to unlock the door and greet you at the top of the ramp. Folks with a scooter/wheelchair have ample room to sit at a table with good leg clearance. Chairs can also be moved around easily to accommodate a mobility device. Servers are very conscientious and willing to assist in whatever way they can and the bathroom is spacious with grab bars. Candle lit tables add to the ambiance. Make sure to make a reservation on the accessible mezzanine level. 

Day Two:

Located at 470 Belleville Street in the iconic Steamship Terminal Building in Victoria’s beautiful inner harbour is The Bateman Foundation and Gallery. It contains the largest existing collection of original and rare works by this award winning and legendary Canadian artist, activist and naturalist. The gallery also showcases a rotation of exhibits by similarly environmentally-minded guest artists.

The Bateman Gallery is set up for folks of all ages to encourage and inspire them to connect with the natural world through a series of interesting exhibits, activities and guided tours. There is a short video that starts the experience, which gives an informative introduction to Robert Bateman and his inspiration, the studio where he works and lives (on Saltspring Island) and how he’s developed his exceptional talent over the years. 

Due to its downtown location, traffic is busy outside the gallery. There is parallel parking along Belleville Street and one accessible parking spot nearby, plus a large curb cut directly beside the gallery on the street, which can help to facilitate pick up and drop off. To access the gallery, which is all on one level, enter the building and take the elevator up to the second floor. You will arrive on the gallery level, which is barrier free, spacious and easy to manoeuvre around in. Staff are welcoming and very knowledgeable. Washrooms are accessible and include a universal height toilet, grab bars and accessible sink. 

Tucked down in Market Square in the heart of Victoria’s old town district you’ll find Whistle Buoy Brewing, which is a welcoming and wheelchair accessible space serving up delicious craft beers, made right on the premises with the freshest regionally sourced oysters and other local snacks. Run by super friendly folks, Whistle Buoy Brewing is a great place to pop in, get comfortable and stay for awhile. 

Because Market Square (built in 1975) isn’t entirely accessible for wheelchair and scooter users, the best way to get into Whistle Buoy is one of two ways. Either wheel down the paved  entrance off of Store Street or get a friend, like I did, to drop you off at the bottom of the parking lot off Pandora Street, go under the bridge, locate the large white beer garden tent to your right, take the ramp down to the same level, (there are tables and chairs set up all around), and then head down one further small ramp, which brings you to level of the brewery.

Once inside, the space is flat and relatively roomy with movable tables and chairs. Towards the back of the brewery, there is a large accessible/universally designed bathroom with grab bars and a universal height toilet. The sink also works for wheelchair users with leg clearance underneath so that the faucet and paper towel dispenser are within reach. 

Eagle Wing Whale & Wildlife Watching Tours is a Victoria BC  based adventure tour company that runs off the end of Fisherman’s Wharf and has vessels and a crew that have safety, accessibility and spectacular wildlife viewing all as their top priority.

Fortunately for wheelchair users the ramp at Fisherman’s wharf is very accessible, particularly if you happen to be there during a higher tide when the ramp is at a very mild decline. At the very top of the ramp, the threshold (or “bump”) is quite minimal and the ramp itself is wide and covered with a slip resistant mesh. During a very low tide the ramp can be a little steep so use caution. Once down onto the main dock of the wharf, there is also the slip resistant mesh for stability as one travels along. Fisherman’s wharf is a colourful collection of food kiosks, shops, ecotours, float homes, and working fish boats with an artsy and fun vibe. Eagle Wing Whale & Wildlife Watching Tours also has a kiosk down on the wharf.

The staff were extremely helpful and respectful when it came to boarding and offer their assistance to ensure safety and comfort. Once on board, which takes place at the aft of the boat, there was room to move around the storage units (which contain lifejackets) and into the covered fore cabin, which has padded bench seating for the majority of the customers. There is a dedicated spot with good visibility for wheelchair/scooter users with floor securement to prevent rolling if requested. Although there is a bathroom on board, it is not accessible to all because of a raised threshold that must be stepped over to enter. As well, the bathroom itself is quite narrow. Once on your way be prepared to see to some great viewing. A combination of seals, sea lions, otters, bald eagles, orca and humpback whales (depending on the season), are some of the magnificent creatures you can expect to see for the approximately four hour tour. From the knowledgeable naturalists who educate with passion to the incredibly capable and friendly crew operating the sturdy vessel, this is an adventure you shouldn’t miss!

Day Three:

Situated on the traditional territory of the Malahat Nation 250 metres (820 ft) above Finlayson Arm just a 35-minute drive north of Victoria and one hour south of Nanaimo, is Vancouver Island’s most recent and spectacular tourist attraction, the Malahat Skywalk. The Skywalk is a beautiful feat of engineering, the first of its kind in North America, which is accessible and designed to be enjoyed by all. 

The skywalk, which is a two-part experience, begins with a 600 metre (1970 ft) Tree-walk along an elevated walkway through the stunning canopy of the Arbutus, Douglas Fir and Garry Oak Trees. The unique views of this rarely seen part of the coastal forest have to be experienced to be believed. There are benches and interpretive panels along the walkway and once through the Treewalk, the 40 metre (132 ft) 10 storey, solidly-constructed Skywalk tower comes into view. The Skywalk’s spiral ramp gently climbs a comfortable 5° grade to the top and once up, jaw dropping 360° views of Finlayson Arm fjord, the snow capped Olympic mountain range, the Gulf Islands, the Saanich Peninsula and the American San Juans are all on full display. Feel free to linger as long as your ticket is good for the complete experience.

Tucked away in the beautiful Rockland neighbourhood of Victoria is the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV), situated amongst tall Garry Oak trees growing up, through and around the parking lot. 

AGGV was established in 1951 and is housed in the old Spencer Mansion, a large Victorian style home which was built in 1889. From 1955 to 1978, the building was expanded and renovated several times, creating a modernist-style extension in order to accommodate the growing viewing space. 

Today, AGGV is home to BC’s largest collection of visual arts with over 20,000 works, and a permanent exhibition of Asian art, as well as an impressive permanent collection of Victoria’s best-known and beloved artist, Emily Carr. While the overall gallery space is relatively small, the exhibits are interesting, and thought-provoking. There is an Asian Garden with the only authentic Japanese Shinto Shrine in North America set amongst beautiful bamboo and Japanese maples. At AGGV, a small selection of art classes, camps and workshops are offered throughout the year for folks of all ages, in various formats: both online and in-person. 

The Art Gallery is reasonably accessible. There is one free accessible parking space across from the main entrance of the Gallery, and a loading zone with a curb cut-out in front of the Gallery’s doors. There is a ramp which makes it possible for wheelchair/scooter users to bypass the stairs and arrive at the main entrance, which is outfitted with a push plate door opener. Once inside, there is a large, wide ramp, which leads up to various spaces which contain the exhibits. Some of the exhibits can only be accessed by stairs, but most can be viewed by all. The narrow restrooms are not technically “accessible”, but might work for some. They do not have automatic push plate door openers. The outdoor Japanese Shinto Shrine and Asian Garden is not wheelchair accessible.

If you are a fan of Neapolitan-style pizza cooked in a traditional wood-fire oven, then FARO Handcrafted Pizza and Tasting Room will be a sure hit. The wheelchair access is through the lobby of the hotel, and it is staffed by friendly servers who will ensure that you’re well looked after.  Seating is available in the restaurant itself, on the sunny patio, or in the recently created Faro Lane, a converted light and airy conservatory space with tables and chairs, and a lovely garden atmosphere. There is a wheelchair accessible bathroom in the hall on the way to the restaurant. The menu is fairly simple with a curated selection of appetizers and approximately a dozen pizza choices. My friend and I had a salad and split a pizza - delicious! I also had a glass of refreshing prosecco, which was heavenly. FARO deserves a strong recommendation from this lover of all things fabulous! Don’t miss it.