News Local

Ramps for accessibility

By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer

Andrew Simms, a partner with Alair Homes, is the local representative of the StopGap Foundation, which seeks to provide businesses with free portable ramps to make their places accessible for those with mobility issues. The group is seeking partners to make this happen. Janna's Gallery Cafe received one of the first ramps in Pembroke.

Andrew Simms, a partner with Alair Homes, is the local representative of the StopGap Foundation, which seeks to provide businesses with free portable ramps to make their places accessible for those with mobility issues. The group is seeking partners to make this happen. Janna's Gallery Cafe received one of the first ramps in Pembroke.

A local building company has teamed up with an agency to provide portable ramps to make local businesses accessible.

 

Alair Homes out of Renfrew has teamed up with the StopGap Foundation to provide local businesses free ramps to allow people to access their premises. The plywood ramps work for businesses with only one step, and are deployed as necessary.

Andrew Simms, an Alair Homes partner and the local contact for StopGap, said the goal is to provide between 60 to 80 ramps to businesses throughout Renfrew County. They will start in Pembroke and Petawawa and have the ramps ready before spring 2018, then move on from there.

“These will provide independence for people who would not be able to get about,” he said. For people with mobility issues, a single step up from the street is a major barrier, so the ramps would allow these folks to access places they wouldn't normally be able to do so.

The StopGap Foundation was registered as a charitable organization in October 2013, but it's roots date back to the fall of 2011. Building ramps for single-step storefronts began as an initiative to raise awareness about barriers in our built environment.

Its founder and current executive director Luke Anderson was an engineer and home builder when a mountain bike accident in the fall of 2002 left him in a wheelchair.

The frustration of finding how the world wasn't accessible to him anymore led to the StopGap Foundation. The main focus of the foundation is the Ramp Project, a volunteer-run campaign that creates awareness about barriers in the built environment. Once centred in Toronto, the project is now being spread far and wide.

Simms said what they are looking for is partners in the plan; businesses which would be able to donate materials for the ramps, and volunteers willing to construct them. He said the ramps are easy to build, so he is hopeful this could be worked out.

“We're looking for key partners to help us,” Simms said, noting they will be surveying local businesses to see if they would want a ramp to start out.

Those interested in helping out, want a ramp or want more information on StopGap are asked to call Andrew Simms at 613-633-9756.

SUhler@postmedia.com