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Bridging The Gap, One Access Ramp at a Time

How StopGap co-founder Luke Anderson is pushing for accessibility measures in Toronto and across Canada

A group pf people, one of which is in a wheelchair, stand in front of a shop and look down at a bright blue wheelchair ramp that connects the sidewalk to the store's entrance.

Courtesy of Luke Anderson

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So said the ancient Chinese Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu. This wisdom is illustrated well in Luke Anderson’s work on StopGap Foundation

Anderson is a structural engineer, social entrepreneur and the co-founder of the StopGap initiative, which he started in 2011. Now a registered charity, it began as a one-off project—the installation of the first-ever access ramp in Toronto, in front of a shop in the west end. 

“Navigating the world was very different for me after my spinal cord injury in 2002,” recalls Anderson. After talking to others frustrated by the lack of accessibility in public spaces, he turned his irritation into action. 

Since then, more than 2,500 StopGap ramps have been installed in 60-plus communities across Canada— at stores, coffee shops and restaurants. Anderson and his team have garnered many awards, one being the Jane Jacobs Prize, which honours those working toward positive, community-fuelled change. 

“That lights me up,” Anderson says, “because Jacobs was such a force in raising awareness of the importance of a connected neighbourhood.” With more than 22 percent of the Canadian population living with disabilities, Anderson believes that disruption is key to generating change. 

“That usually happens from a grassroots bottom-up approach. And it doesn’t happen overnight. It involves changes in building codes and our own perceptions—and helping us with our biases that are deeply ingrained.”

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Do you know someone who goes above and beyond? We’d love to hear about them. Send nominations to drivenbygood@caasco.ca and they could be our featured Localer in an upcoming issue.

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