Accessibility has come along way, especially in public spaces, but for people like Daniel Lebrun, there are still too many barriers — especially in the Downtown Sudbury.
Most of us might not even notice a step or two, or a difference in height between a doorway and the sidewalk of only a few inches, but Lebrun, who uses a wheelchair, estimates that he's unable to enter three-quarters of downtown businesses.
“Every second store we go to, there's at least a little step-gap,” said Lebrun at the launch of StopGap Sudbury's downtown initiative on July 1 at Market Square. “We like to go out at night, we like to enjoy the entertainment, but if there's a step and I can't get in, I've got to bring my business somewhere else.”
To help create a barrier-free downtown, Lebrun volunteers for the Sudbury chapter of StopGap, a national initiative that builds and installs wooden access ramps throughout Canadian cities wherever they're needed.
The brightly-painted ramps are a temporary solution to the problem but their bold colour will certainly draw the eye down and hopefully raise more awareness to the obstacles that those with mobility challenges still face.
“Thanks to community volunteers and material donors, we can build single step storefront ramps anywhere they're needed and build a more inclusive community,” said StopGap Sudbury's volunteer leader Nadine Law. “Today, we've had a number of downtown businesses approach us telling us they want ramps. It's quite exciting.”
The organization can build ramps for steps up to nine inches tall, which makes up the majority of entrance ways.
And they're not just for people in wheelchairs.
“Look at the elderly who use walkers or mobility scooters — we have an aging community especially in the downtown, look at people making deliveries with dollies,” said Law. “There are a lot of people who can benefit from these ramps.”
The goal is ultimately to make Sudbury as accessible as possible.
“These ramps are one step closer,” said Lebrun. “Hopefully, they'll allow me and others to go out and enjoy the downtown lifestyle a bit better.”
For more information on working with StopGap or having a ramp installed at your business, visit StopGap.ca.