In June 2023, the Conservation Halton Foundation hosted its fifth annual fundraising gala at Kelso Conservation Area. The event helped to raise over $280,000 for accessibility improvements that are now underway at the park.

Kelso is a favourite Milton destination for outdoor recreation and nature-based learning. It offers an extensive trail network for hiking and mountain biking, a lifeguarded beach and summer boat rentals, and day camps and school programs for children and youth – and it operates as the winter sports hub Glen Eden from December to March.

Since 2022, Conservation Halton has invested more than $800,000 in major projects at this park and others across its network to improve access to nature, from installing an accessible dock at Area 8, to retrofitting guest washrooms at Kelso and Hilton Falls to make amenities fully accessible. This work is ongoing, reflecting the organization’s continued commitment to providing inclusive outdoor spaces.

Recently, with proceeds from the Conservation Halton Foundation’s 2023 gala, the team at Kelso invested in new all-terrain wheelchairs that provide greater access to park trails as well as mobile-accessible mats for the Kelso beachfront.

“With the generous support of last year’s gala sponsors and donors — and thanks to all the patrons who came out during our annual ‘Parks Weekend’ — we are making long-term improvements to accessibility at Kelso,” said Justin Silva, Senior Manager of Operations.

Working with an external accessibility consultant, Kelso’s operations team has now completed an extensive park audit to identify barriers and potential improvements across the site, amounting to more than $1 million in recommended future enhancements. “Nature isn’t always inherently accessible,” added Justin, “but as park operators, we pride ourselves on being innovative and finding solutions that make outdoor experiences more accessible and engaging for community members of all abilities.”

Some of these solutions include new accessible sport and recreation features. Already, the park supports a successful, decades-long partnership with Track3 that offers expert-led adaptive winter-recreation programming for children and youth with disabilities. In 2023, the Kelso programming team added a 9-hole disc golf course to offer more accessible sport experiences from spring through fall.

“We’re grateful to our donors and funders for their support of CH, and we’re looking forward to implementing many more initiatives this year and beyond that help us achieve a high level of accessibility at our parks,” said Justin.

Heading into spring, the Kelso/Glen Eden team is preparing for major capital projects, including the renovation of washrooms and pathways at the park’s beachfront and upgrades to the parking lot elevator, which provides visitors and staff with direct ski hill access during winter.

With the Conservation Halton Foundation’s 2024 gala returning to this popular park in June, supporters will be invited to contribute to further improvements at Kelso and other sites across Conservation Halton’s expansive greenspace network, to help the organization create more spaces that our diverse communities can experience and enjoy.