AC­CES­SI­BLE SACKVILLE

Sackville Tribune - - COVER STORY - BY KATIE TOWER STAFF RE­PORTER

Ef­forts con­tinue to make the Sackville a more age-friendly place.

Sackville con­tin­ues to move for­ward on ini­tia­tives that make the com­mu­nity a more age­friendly place.

The town is the first in New Brunswick to part­ner with the Stop­gap Foun­da­tion, re­cently in­stalling sev­eral new ramps to help make lo­cal busi­nesses more ac­ces­si­ble.

Michael Fox, a mem­ber of the mayor’s ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee work­ing to de­velop an age­friendly action plan, said this lat­est project is a sim­ple mea­sure that of­fers a real so­lu­tion in elim­i­nat­ing bar­ri­ers to some es­tab­lish­ments.

Through the Stop­gap Com­mu­nity Ramp Project, sin­gle-step busi­nesses are pro­vided with a colour­ful and de­ploy­able ac­cess ramp. This en­sures that peo­ple with wheel­chairs, strollers or mo­bil­ity is­sues can now en­ter these spa­ces with greater ease.

The Bridge Street Café and Na­pul’è Restau­rant were the first down­town busi­nesses to jump on board with this com­mu­nity project and Fox said he hopes oth­ers will soon join in, as well.

“We’re see­ing the com­mu­nity start­ing to rise to the chal­lenge,” said Fox of this ini­tia­tive, along with other age-friendly pro­grams that have taken flight in Sackville in­clud­ing the monthly Mem­ory Cafes, the Walk in the Park, and the pur­chase of a tr­ishaw bike.

Fox said although the ramps do not present a per­fect so­lu­tion to the prob­lem, they do gen­er­ate cu­rios­ity and get peo­ple talk­ing about this huge de­sign is­sue within our com­mu­nity.

“It re­ally starts a con­ver­sa­tion,” he said.

Fox said he had heard about the Stop Gap Foun­da­tion through his son, who lives in Toronto. To date, the Stop­gap Foun­da­tion has over 1,200 ramps in more than 40 com­mu­ni­ties across Canada. The Foun­da­tion works col­lab­o­ra­tively with pol­icy mak­ers, de­sign­ers, builders, ar­chi­tects, and com­mu­nity mem­bers to in­spire a shift in per­spec­tive about the im­por­tance of universal ac­cess and in­clu­sion.

So in part­ner­ship with Stop­gap Foun­da­tion, the mayor’s ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee has also been work­ing with var­i­ous com­mu­nity mem­bers to de­velop the Sackville Com­mu­nity Ramp Project, in­clud­ing

high school shop teacher Blaine Macisaac, who built the colour­ful ramps. Mount Al­li­son Univer­sity stu­dents who have an in­ter­est in ac­ces­si­bil­ity is­sues, both in the com­mu­nity and on cam­pus, have also helped sup­port the project. Ma­te­ri­als were do­nated through

lo­cal fundrais­ing and the com­mit­tee was also able to ac­cess a stu­dent ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing and action grant though the stu­dent life of­fice at Mount A.

The ramps are mov­able so they can be brought in­side in the win­ter months for snow re­moval pur­poses; a sticker in the busi­ness’ win­dow lets peo­ple know there is a ramp avail­able to them and pro­vides a num­ber to call for ac­cess.

Other busi­nesses in­ter­ested in get­ting a ramp are wel­come to con­tact The Ramp Project at 364-2440. The portable ramps are free to any busi­ness that has a sin­gle step at their shop that lim­its ac­cess.

PHOTO SUB­MIT­TED

A new ramp was re­cently in­stalled in­side the Na­pul’è Restau­rant in down­town Sackville, al­low­ing for greater ac­cess into the es­tab­lish­ment. Cel­e­brat­ing the in­stal­la­tion last Fri­day was, left to right, Mount Al­li­son stu­dent Des­mond Chan­tiam (who is con­duct­ing re­search on lo­cal ac­ces­si­b­lity is­sues), Mayor John Higham, Na­pul’è owner Carmine Caso and mem­ber of the mayor’s ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee Harold Popma.

PHOTO SUB­MIT­TED

Sackville Mayor John Higham and Pat Estabrooks, a mem­ber of the mayor’s ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee work­ing to de­velop an age-friendly action plan in Sackville, are shown with the new ramp that was re­cently in­stalled in front of the Bridge Street Café.

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