St. Elizabeth’s was built in 1960, when churches and homes where built in the split level style. While a unique architectural style, anyone who has mobility issues knows that the multi-level design, and the stairways and landings that accompany it, are a significant challenge.
For years the people of St. Elizabeth’s have dreamed of a building which would be accessible to everyone. The structural limitations of the church left few options available. After researching a number of different possibilities, in 2011a plan came together that was both financially viable and practical.
The decision was made to install an Incline Wheelchair Lift, with a flip down seat for those needing assistance. Beyond the task of getting those with limited mobility into the church, we also needed to ensure that St. Elizabeth’s met their needs once they were inside. To do this we also carried out a complete retrofit our washroom facilities as well as building a ramp to the front door.
Support for this project came from a number of sources. We received a grant from the Federal Government for approximately 40% of the cost. The remaining funds came from a bequest from a former parishioner, fundraising within the parish, and from many of the extremely generous members of the parish.
Parish fundraising began in October of 2012 and by June 1, 2012, St. Elizabeth’s had raised all the necessary funds. In addition, two families provided extra funds to replace the existing front doors to not only complete the accessibility renovations for accessibility but to also add a lovely entrance to our beloved church.
Work began in January 2013 and included:
- A complete retrofit of the washrooms – new wheelchair accessible doors, stalls and sinks;
- The bottom stairs leading to the parish hall were widened;
- An additional fire door was installed on the upper level to meet fire regulation
This work was completed in March 2013 along with the installation of the new lift.
The final step was to wait for the weather to improve so concrete could be poured for the new ramp and stairs into the building, which was completed in late April.
To complete the exterior renovation, Garden NV Inc, which is owned by one of our parishioners, generously donated their time and expertise to provide beautiful landscaping in the summer of 2013 and bring our accessibility project to an end.
Check out photos of our project on our Flickr account.