|The First Elf|
|The First Ramp|
Elves at Parker Street Skills Development Center are busily making portable ramps for distribution to businesses and organizations with simple barriers to accessibility.
Created as the Stopgap program in Ontario, it comes to Halifax with the enthusiastic encouragement of the James McGregor Stewart Society, the support of business, the generosity of anonymous donors and the cooperation of City Hall.
In Early December the Downtown Business Association circulated this email to members:
One of the challenges of being in a historic downtown is accessibility. Permanent solutions can be a challenge, in terms of expense and logistics.
In Toronto a temporary but effective solution has been found via a group called Stopgap. Colourful, temporary ramps are owned by the businesses and brought out in the event that someone needs them to gain access to your store/restaurant.
We are working with the other Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), the Mayor’s office, and Councillor Waye Mason, to get a few ramps out and about in the community. Because each entrance is a bit different, they must be custom-built.
We are looking for a few stores or restaurants to volunteer to take, and use, a ramp. At this point there would be no cost to you. We would just ask that you use them.
Please let me know as soon as possible if you are interested in your own, temporary accessibility ramp and we will endeavour to get one to you.
Josh Bates, Senior Policy Adviser in the Mayor's Office explains the details:
"We’ve cleared all the necessary hurdles, and are partnering with Parker Street Skills Development Centre to construct the ramps. Parker St. will be constructing 5-6 ramps over the next week or so. Plans are in the works to construct more in the new year.
The first ramp is in front of Hali Deli on Agricola. We also delivered ramps to Lasting Impressions and Hiltz’s Shoe Repair in Dartmouth.
The ramps are built through the Carpenter's Assistant Program, which is a part of Parker Street's Skills Development Centre. This program does receive funding from the provincial government (Department of Labour and Advanced Education), which covers much of the material costs. However, Parker Street could always use funding, which is why local councillors are planning on pitching in some money, along with the Mayor's Office, and businesses that receive a ramp are being asked to contribute a $25 voluntary donation to Parker Street. Of course, the anonymous donation is going a long way to ensuring the Skills Development Centre is sustainable over the long term, and able to contribute to worthwhile projects, such as this one.
There are certain criteria that must be met (i.e. there can only be one step, and the sidewalk must be wide enough to accommodate a ramp, etc.). We explained that they are to take in the ramps when they're not in use, and hope that they will comply!
We anticipate that once other businesses see first hand what the ramps are all about, further interest will be generated. Any business interested in receiving a ramp may contact their BID or the Mayor's Office."
This is exactly the kind of partnership of business, government, and public interest that will bring accessibility to everyone. A perfect alignment of the stars!
ps Pay attention to the money. A donation to Parker Street is tax-deductible and will ensure this program continues. You, too, can be an elf..........