May 8, 2021

Stop Gap Cambridge is ramping up for another year of promoting accessibility by creating custom and colourful ramps to fit at the entrances of small businesses around the city.

Sheri Roberts, chair of the Cambridge accessibility advisory committee, noticed that, as the city she calls home continues to age, the level of accessibility continues to be minimal. In response, she decided to propose creating a chapter of the Toronto-based initiative called Stop Gap.

Stop Gap aims at minimizing barriers for those with disabilities by creating free ramps for small businesses that might otherwise not be able to afford the installation of a ramp.

Three years have passed since the program was introduced in Cambridge and 37 ramps have been handcrafted for businesses in the downtown cores of the city.

“We live in this city with lots of old buildings with one-step-up storefronts, so I thought it would be a perfect fit for Cambridge,” said Roberts. “We handed out our first batch of ramps and it’s been three years now, and we’re up to 37 ramps in Cambridge.”

On March 13, Stop Gap Cambridge finalized the locations of their newest set of ramps that will now assist community members with mobility devices to access services within the city.

Kool Runnings Automotive, VIP Spa, Grand River Sports Medicine Cambridge, Coffee Culture, and Graham’s and Sons Decorating are the five businesses who received ramps in the latest batch.

Tripho Bogias, business manager at Grand River Sports Medicine in Cambridge, said that Stop Gap was perfect to increase accessibility to the ageing buildings of Cambridge.

Sheri Roberts poses with one of the newest Stop Gap ramps that now resides at Grand River Sports Medicine in Cambridge. (Photo from Stop Gap Cambridge Facebook)

“We wanted to increase accessibility to our facility. We have an older building that was built back in the ’50s; therefore, accessibility is a little bit tougher,” said Bogias.

“We do have accessibility at our back door. It’s a lot easier for someone in a wheelchair to get in there. We just also wanted to add that at the front door, especially in the wintertime, when the back door gets piled with snow or cars.”

Since the program’s launch three years ago, Roberts says that the response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I love hearing from community members who reach out to me and say, ‘I got to go eat a cupcake for the first time without needing someone to help me get in and out,'” said Roberts. “Going around town and seeing those little ramps, that are like little works of art — that’s the thing that I am really most proud of.”

What sets Cambridge Stop Gap apart from other initiatives is that the Cambridge chapter paints custom designed artwork onto the ramps.

Volunteers work at painting Stop Gap ramps. (Photo from Stop Gap Facebook)

“Our logo is a dark red and a black and they were able to do the same. The nice thing is it does match our logo colours,” said Bogias. “Any business, if they have a logo or a brand, they can easily get them to paint it in that colour. It looks nicer that way.”

Stop Gap creates two batches of ramps annually with the help of the University of Waterloo School of Architecture and local woodworkers.

More information can be found at stopgap.ca or the Cambridge Stop Gap’s Facebook page.

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