Woodlands Parents' Group

In the mid 1970s, family members of people with disability living in the Woodlands institution in New Westminster BC, became increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of life provided to their loved ones. A core group of 12 family members (the Woodlands Parents’ Group) started meeting regularly to discuss their concerns.

Inspired and driven by the vision of creating a better life for their children, the Woodlands Parents’ Group developed a set of foundations, values and principles that outlined the rights of people with disability to live with dignity; to live in their communities; and to have the same opportunities as other citizens. It was obvious that the institutional model conflicted with this vision.

Two sub-group of the Woodlands Parents’ Group were formed. The first worked to make the institution more accountable to families, while the second sub-group began planning for an alternative service delivery system.

  • In 1976, at the request of the Woodlands Parents’ Group, the Regional Planning Council was formed, with representation from government, service agencies, education and health.
  • In 1977, after meetings with the Minister of Human Resources, the Woodland Parents’ Group issued a Position Paper[1] that proposed a plan of action to enable people with disability living in Woodlands to return to, and receive services in, their communities.
  • In 1978, the Woodlands Parents’ Group formed the Community Living Society, which was mandated to help people moving out of Woodlands and their families secure the right community-based supports. A service model was developed that would be responsive and accountable directly to the individuals, their families and other advocates. A critical piece of the plan was the introduction of a service brokerage – a body that would assist the person with disability and their family in using the individualized funding allocated to them to purchase services in the community.
  • In 1979, the British Columbia government endorsed the families’ plan and agreed to begin moving people out of Woodlands.


[1] Development of a Comprehensive Community-Based System of Service as an alternative to Woodlands. February 1977.