Prince George welcomes athletes and visitors to the 2015 Canada Winter Games but some downtown businesses will also be putting out the “welcome mat” for people in wheelchairs, mothers with strollers or the visually impaired with canes.
Handy Circle Resource Society, a local organization that provides help for people with disabilities and special needs, has been working on a ramp project since 2011.
On Tuesday, the ramps were installed at two downtown locations: Alison’s Embroidery and Gifts, and LSD and C Consignment Boutique.
Ken Biron, facilitator of the local project, said in a press release this week that three more businesses have been added to the list of those who want to provide easier access to their store fronts.
“We partnered with the carpentry department at CNC and instructor Vincent Ross Pullan in 2012 to have them designed and built. We have five now and more can be built. The ramps are donated to the businesses free of charge and we would accept donations if offered.”
Biron said the three they can give out at present are not subject to the city’s requirement of insurance proof and license because the ramps will not encroach on civic sidewalks. Future ramps will be given out once it is established that recipient businesses are complying with the city’s requirements.
“The City of Prince George requires that recipient businesses name the City on their liability insurance and requires basically the same license as retailers who place open sandwich boards and open air tables on the sidewalk.”
However, the City is waiving the fee for that license for Stopgap recipients.
“Prince George is the first city in the country to include consultation with our city to this level,” said Biron.
The ramps cannot be left out unattended and must be brought in between each use, they are put out so a person can enter, then brought in between uses.
“We are also introducing visibility features to make them easier to be seen by passing pedestrians and low-vision people, using the ramp which our national coordinator, Luke Anderson, says will be included in the master design. They will be uniquely Prince George, hopefully in time for the Games.”
Stores will display a sign to let people know a Stopgap Ramp is available.
“We are thinking of supplying a wireless doorbell to let retailers know when someone needs the ramps. The store’s number as well as device size and weight limitations will also be included on the sign.”
For more information, visit www.stopgap.ca.