The Hay River RCMP Detachment has become more accessible for persons with disabilities.

The detachment has replaced an old ramp with a new and improved version.

“There was a ramp before,” said Sgt. Brandon Humbke. “We recognized that the existing ramp didn’t meet code in regards to persons with disabilities to enter our building.”

Lillian Crook, left, the president of the Hay River Committee for Persons with Disabilities, and Sgt. Brandon Humbke stand on the new ramp recently added to the entrance of the Hay River RCMP Detachment. Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Humbke said, for one thing, the old ramp wasn’t wide enough for newer wheelchairs, while the new ramp is two inches wider.

The new ramp was officially completed on Dec. 2.

Humbke explained it is totally different than the older one.

“The old ramp went straight off the edge of the step here. It just went straight down,” he said, adding the corrugated metal ramp just had one handrail on it and it was open on the other side.

The old ramp was long and steep, he added. “Where this one has less of a grade to it and that’s why it curves back and forth a couple of times.”

Lillian Crook, the president of the Hay River Committee for Persons with Disabilities, welcomes the new ramp.

“It’s exciting to have another establishment step forward and do this initiative,” she said.

Crook said Hay River has moved forward in the last couple of years in terms of accessibility.

“Many establishments are now upgrading their buildings,” she noted. “At one time, Fort Smith was the community that was chosen as the most accessible for people with disabilities, and we’re hoping that Hay River will take over that title in the next few years.”

Humbke said work started on the new ramp in about mid-October.

The sergeant said it is very important to have the detachment accessible to all residents of the community.

“We recognize that we have persons with disabilities attempting to access our building,” he said.

Crook noted that, while the new ramp will be good for people with disabilities, it will also benefit others, like mothers pushing baby carriages.

“It’s for everybody,” she said. “If you break your leg, you have a disability. We always think of people in wheelchairs, but access is the whole community and it benefits the whole community.”

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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