Despite Progress, Frigo Vert Still Not Fully Wheelchair Accessible

Months After Reopening in a New Space There’s Still Work to be Done

Frigo Vert moved to 1440 Mackay St. last semester with the hopes of becoming fully wheelchair accessible. Photo Nik Litzenberger

When Frigo Vert moved to 1440 Mackay St. last semester, having a new, wheelchair accessible space was a top priority.

Since the move, the non-profit health food store has installed a ramp inside the space for wheelchairs, but Frigo Vert collective member Maria Forti said that there are “quite a few more things [Frigo Vert] could do.”

There is no railing for the outdoor ramp, though the collective is hoping the landlord will install one. Also, a ladder is often in the way of the ramp that leads to the store’s exit due to renovations being done by the landlord, explained Forti.

To increase the space’s wheelchair accessibility, they also hope to install automatic doors for the entrance, and would like an accessible bathroom.

The collective is currently trying to apply for a grant from the Quebec government that would cover the costs. When the collective came across the grant last year, it was already too late to apply.

Forti says that Frigo Vert is looking at programs such as the Programme d’immobilisation en entrepreneuriat collectif for the grant. PIEC is intended for businesses that are part of the Quebec social economy wishing to “renovate, build or buy” a building to “develop their business and their offer of service.”

The store has otherwise made changes to create a more accessible space. A counter at wheelchair-accessible height and a bathroom in the back has been set up. The kitchenette in the store’s lounge has also been made to accommodate different needs.

The Link reported last March that the rent for the space increased by around $4,000. Forti believed at the time that the “sales [would] go up enough to cover the rent in a couple of years.” She added that between March and May, the store was “doing a bit better.”

“We’re definitely doing better than we did in the old days,” said Forti. It will be a couple of months before the collective will know the extent of the deficit, but Forti expects the numbers to balance in a year or two.