The Yellow Dog Tavern is the proud owner of a new set of wheelchair ramps, thanks to two customers who wanted to see the Exchange District business be more accessible.
Anders Swanson, director of the Winnipeg Trails Association, and Allen Mankewich, an accessibility advocate and wheelchair user, decided they were going take it upon themselves to make it happen one evening while out for a beer.
They had noted a lack of ramps connecting the Donald Street building’s entrances to the sidewalk a few centimetres below. Swanson and Mankewich had just left a meeting on accessibility policy, so the topic was top of mind.
"I was like: ‘You know what? Forget it. I’m going to Home Depot on the way back and grabbing some stuff to make those ramps,’" Swanson told the Free Press with a laugh.
The 7.5-cm ledge at the entryway might not warrant a second thought from an able-bodied person. However, Swanson said, for someone who uses a wheelchair, it could mean the difference between getting into the building independently and asking for assistance.
"Allen and I went and measured it, and just figured out something that worked," said Swanson. "That’s what Winnipeg Trails does every day. It tries to break down barriers for people moving under their own power."
Swanson installed the ramps on Saturday. The Yellow Dog Tavern had recently re-opened following closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so he figured now was the time to put them to use.
Greg Ash, tavern owner, said he is pleased with the finished product.
"There’s a lot of old business that don’t have that design to the street," said Ash, adding the ramps fit in well with streetscape and he appreciates the hand-painted design that matches the Yellow Dog signage.
A Winnipeg Trails Association social post about the project garnered significant positive feedback. Swanson said he’s excited about the reaction, because it will mean more people looking to set up such ramps outside their own businesses.
"If there’s any businesses that need some advice on how to build these ramps or want to talk about freedom and mobility and universal access, they can always get a hold of us. We’re happy to talk to them," said Swanson, adding he’ll personally help build ramps for any business that reaches out to the association.