When faced with a step or a stoop in front of a store, a simple plywood wedge can make life easier for everyone.
“It (barriers) really prevents everybody from easily enjoying a space whether you are a delivery person trying to lug packages into a business or a parent pushing a stroller, it makes everyone’s life a little more difficult when you encounter a barrier,” said Luke Anderson, who, along with Michael Hopkins created StopGap, a program that aims to create a “world where every person can access every space through fun and engaging community projects that raise awareness and remove barriers”.
“For someone like myself, who uses a wheelchair, it is even more of an issue. It impedes an independent way of life and prevents spontaneity.”
Anderson said the project was created out of a need to raise awareness about barriers in the built environment, including Anderson’s office, which, at one time, had three steps at the front office.
“Michael would typically come down and help me deploy a folding ramp,” Anderson said. “It was a frustrating thing to have to phone ahead and make sure there was someone there to help me get into my place of work.”
Barriers in the built environment is an issue across the city and in communities all over Canada.
Anderson and Hopkins, both engineers, started StopGap a year ago and their first project was installing 12 ramps in the Junction. During the Polish Festival on Roncesvalles Avenue this year, StopGap facilitated the construction, painting and delivery of 43 ramps, the organization’s largest project to date.
“It was a total home run and we are getting some great feedback from residents and the community,” Anderson said.
Pollock’s Home Hardware provided all of the materials and contracting company Greening Homes helped build the ramps. Anderson said the Roncesvalles Village Business Improvement Area (BIA) was also a big support.
“We like having an organization like that on board because it helps give the project some weight and it helps businesses accept and understand that the project is legitimate,” he said.
The pair went from business to business along Roncesvalles explaining the project, and Anderson said many business people were happy to participate.
The ramps are made to be deployed by the proprietor when someone needing it comes along. They are not meant to be permanent fixtures, Anderson said.
They are also brightly coloured, which is in part meant to draw people’s attention and start a conversation about barriers.
“As engineers, we understand that the design process takes time and in order for a good solution to be zeroed in on it will take thought and some trial and error. But the hope is that this project will get people thinking about smart solutions.”
For more information visit www.stopgap.ca