Skip to content

The Canadian Adaptive Network is a registered Society based in the Elk Valley. CAN was formed after a visioning workshop held in Fernie in December 2017. The workshop was attended by people with disabilities, family members, and interested members of the public. Stories shared by workshop participants highlighted the need for increased awareness of the growing number of people with functional limitations (which includes seniors) in the Elk Valley and the need for greater accessibility and inclusion.

CAN is a catalyst for creation of an inclusive society where people with functional limitations have equal opportunity to participate in activities of their choosing and be defined by who they are, rather than by what they can or cannot do.


Build a collaborative network for the coordination of services, creation of effective communication, reinforcement of existing organizations, and provision of a gateway for information regarding best practices, standards for adaptive design, and flexible and diverse programs and facilities aimed at achieving readily recognizable and measurable change.

The purposes of CAN include:
• Fostering awareness of the needs of persons with functional limitations;
• Improving the quality of life for all persons, including persons with functional limitations;
• Increasing awareness of social issues, particularly for those persons with functional limitations;
• Engaging in educational activities to change perceptions of persons with functional limitations and to provide informational resources to persons with functional limitations; and,
• Providing networking opportunities for other organizations and individuals with similar purposes.

Functional limitations are defined as any way, mentally or physically, in which a person’s condition affects their ability to function on a day to day basis.
Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions.
Debate continues regarding the use of the term “disability”; however, because of its broad definition as well as its widespread use in everyday language, CAN uses both “functional limitations” and “disability” in its communications.

Creating Accessible Communities in the Elk Valley: Phase 1
CAN has received funding for Phase I of a broader, multi-year, multi-community project. The goal of the broader project is to generate reliable information and increase awareness in order to produce improvements in accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities in the Elk Valley.

Project Goals and Objectives:
The goals of Phase 1 are to achieve greater understanding and awareness of barriers to participation in community life by people with disabilities and to identify opportunities for greater inclusion through social and physical accessibility improvements.
The objectives of Phase 1 are: (1) Assess and distribute information on the quality, accessibility and affordability of existing facilities and services in Fernie and nearby RDEK locations against national and global standards; (2) Collect and evaluate information on how persons with disabilities or functional limitations participate in meaningful activities in Fernie, Area A RDEK, Elkford and Sparwood; and (3) identify accessibility gaps to be filled.

Phase 1 Outcomes:

• A CAN Board member – Louisa Cotton - has successfully completed the Rick Hansen Foundation course in accessibility and is now a Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification professional
• CAN project team members will learn and apply mapping skills for production of on-line map products for use by the public (e.g., finding accessible restaurants or hotel rooms)
• CAN project team members will work with community organizations and municipal personnel to learn about planning, designing, and constructing the social and physical environment from the perspective of people with disabilities

• Officials and the public will better understand the current accessibility situation in Fernie and nearby locations in RDEK Area A
• Officials and the public will learn about the social and economic benefits of increased accessibility
• The online accessibility tool can become a tool for continuous improvement

• Increased awareness will influence officials and business owners and lead them to incorporate social and physical accessibility into their plans
• Increased public awareness will elevate the issue of accessibility and inclusion in public discourse and the political process
• Increased public awareness will improve the quality of social interactions for people with disabilities due to changes in the public’s attitude