OTTAWA — The office of Governor General Julie Payette has issued a list of 123 new recipients of civilian honours for bravery, meritorious service and volunteerism that includes one innovator who founded an organization to boost accessibility for wheelchair users.
Luke Anderson is the founder of the StopGap Foundation, based in Toronto, which manufactures and distributes ramps for installation where steps otherwise prohibit access. A wheelchair user himself, he estimated that two-thirds of urban spaces are not accessible to people with mobility restrictions and developed the colourful temporary ramps as one solution.
StopGap began with the launch of its first Community Ramp Project in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood. Through building materials donated by local hardware stores and volunteers helping out with construction, 12 businesses in the area received a ramp for free. The program has proven such a success that it has expanded across Canada.
StopGap also has a school program and undertakes other community accessibility outreach.
Anderson was honoured in the Meritorious Service Decorations (Civil Division). Other awards handed out by the governor general July 1 included Decorations for Bravery and the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers.
The citation for Anderson stated, “Through this initiative, as well as his engaging presentations to students and community groups, he has drawn attention to the need to permanently eliminate barriers in our built environment.”