StopGap ramping it up in Saugeen Shores
July 23, 2016
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In a media release, the Town's Accessibility Advisory Committee advised that there will be eight fewer doorsteps with inaccessible entrances around Saugeen Shores.
Thanks to a ramp-building project initiated by local volunteers who have brought the ”StopGap” project to the municipality, the Town of Saugeen Shores Accessibility Advisory Committee, made up of local volunteers, is hoping to ramp up accessibility at Saugeen Shores businesses in a colourful way this summer.
Colourful, portable, wooden temporary ramps have been built to accommodate accessibility needs for eligible businesses in downtown Port Elgin and Southampton. The pilot project involves eight (8) downtown businesses with single-step storefronts. The ramps were built by the talented and dedicated students of the construction class at Saugeen District Secondary School under the guidance of their teacher, Bud Halpin.
This project was made possible by the donations and support of four local businesses:
Local businesses that had a one-step access from the sidewalk into the building were visited by Accessibility Committee members Cheryl Grace and Bill McKee.
The bright and colourful temporary ramps will be placed at the following businesses that applied for the free ramps:
Canadian Martial Arts Centre – Port Elgin
(L-R) Councillor Cheryl Grace Bill McKee, Accessibility Advisory Committee Member Stacy Kremer, Director/Instructor
This simple wooden wedge of precise design and dimensions is the initiative of the StopGap Foundation, an organization aimed at making businesses more accessible to those with limited mobility which was the catalyst for this program coming to Saugeen Shores.
StopGap is a not-for-profit organization and this project is entirely volunteer-run and donation-based. The project was brought to the Accessibility Committee’s attention and organized by one of their members, Bill McKee, with support of Councillor Cheryl Grace who serves on the Committee.
According to a 2012 Statistics Canada survey, 11 percent of Canadian adults are limited in their daily lives because of pain, flexibility limitations, and mobility impairment that in some cases require a wheelchair, rollator or walker. This solution was created by Luke Anderson, founder and creator of the StopGap Foundation, with the goal to make downtowns and neighbourhoods accessible for all.
Anderson, who uses a wheelchair, created StopGap as a community ramp project to provide custom access ramps – free of charge – to local shops, restaurants, and businesses with single-step storefronts. His goal was to improve accessibility by bridging the gap between sidewalks and buildings.
“As the name suggests, these ramps are not a perfect solution,“ says Anderson. “We hope our project will help pave the way for permanent solutions to this huge access issue.”
Provincial legislation requires buildings to be accessible by 2025.
Stopgap was founded in 2011 by Anderson in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood and has since spread across the country. “Every community that has taken on the project and every project that we’ve launched under our own steam here in Toronto has been a huge success; all the volunteers go home really having enjoyed the experience,” he said.
Anderson has used a wheelchair since he was injured in a mountain bike crash 12 years ago. He says the project is as much about starting conversations and raising awareness about accessibility issues as it is about providing temporary ramps at no or low cost to businesses.
StopGap has provided ramps to various neighbourhoods across Canada.
Anyone wishing to get more information or to donate to this Saugeen Shores accessibility initiative can call the Town of Saugeen Shores’ Deputy Clerk Tracey Edwards at 519-832-2008 Ext. 105. For more information on the StopGap program visit www.stopgap.ca .
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Saturday, July 23, 2016