Creating a more accessible city through ramps
Published Saturday, March 18, 2017 9:43PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, March 20, 2017 7:32AM EDT
Chris Kennedy loves to stop by Wilensky’s Deli in Mile-End to grab a sandwich.
This seemingly simple act, however, wasn’t always easy for him.
“I'd just have to bang on the door all the time and they would be busy and have to come out and give me a sandwich,” he said.
Kennedy uses a wheelchair and like many Montrealers with limited mobility, he often has a hard time accessing commercial buildings.
So he had a custom ramp built for Wilensky’s, provided through J’accede Quebec, a non-profit organization he works for.
Its overarching goal is to promote a more inclusive and barrier-free society, working with the Stop Gap foundation out of Toronto.
A ramp is shown being put in front of Wilensky's Deli for a customer who uses a wheelchair.
Both groups give free ramps to businesses that only have one step to get inside.
“I found it's been a very positive experience people are always happy to make their business more accessible,” Kennedy said. “You know they're getting more clients and we're improving accessibility in the city.”
The City of Montreal launched a new program back in January, committing $1.6 million over five years to add wheelchair ramps and wider doors that open automatically. The city says it will be able to fund around 40 projects each year.
Advocates for the disabled argue that isn’t nearly enough considering 60 per cent of buildings around Montreal are not accessible.
J’accede Quebec decided not to wait around for the city to solve this problem.
Its lightweight, non-permanent ramps are custom-made for each business location and are painted bright colours by volunteers.
On Saturday volunteers used donated materials to make ramps for twelve local businesses.
“Montreal is just a city that has a lot of problems with accessibility even to simple businesses so I thought it was really important to come in and help out,” said Lauren Reynolds.
Some volunteers even brought their children to lend a hand.
“They got to get their hands dirty, painting, building and some sanding,” said Brian Miller.
Volunteers hope that through promoting accessibility they’ll also create awareness about barriers that can keep people like Stephanie Chipeur from fully enjoying Montreal.
“This is going to make a huge difference for me to be able to take shelter if need be like anyone else does in the rain or in the snow, or to go in and do a quick purchase,” she said.
Businesses owners interested in receiving a ramp can contact J'accede Quebec for more information.
Volunteers put a fresh coat of paint on a newly built ramp