Letters to the Editor

Don't dodge disabled parking issue

Dear Sir:

I am grateful for Margaret Speirs’ article of Feb. 2, 2014 on the problems associated with disability parking permits.

It would have been helpful to quote some sections of the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) as they apply to parking for disabled persons in Division 38.

The permit itself has the rules for its use.  One thing it makes clear is that unless the permit holder gets out of the vehicle it cannot be used.

It is not enough to simply be in the vehicle.

All the rules are plain common sense.

The permit is issued to one person, not the vehicle.

It is issued for three years and then it expires. Some disabilities are temporary and some will not be visible.

Disability permits need to be checked periodically.

The expiry is noted on the edge of the permit so any attempt to cover the edge is likely to hide the fact that it is an expired permit.

Municipalities stopped issuing permits in about 1990 and the provincial government introduced a section in the MVA which states:

38.07 Permits issued on behalf of Municipalities that are unexpired on January 1, 1991, shall be recognized and considered to be valid permits under this Division until they expire or, where no expiry date is given, until January 1, 1994.

The act makes it quite clear what is an offence:

38.08 A person commits an offence who:

(a) Makes a false statement in an application,

b) Stops, leaves standing or parks in a disabled zone a vehicle not displaying a permit unless the vehicle is stopped, left standing or parked for the purpose of transporting a disabled person,

(c) Mutilates, defaces or alters a permit,

(d) Stops, leaves standing or parks in a disabled zone a vehicle that does not display

(i) a permit issued under this Division, or

(ii) a permit of similar nature issued by another jurisdiction, or

(e) lends or transfers a permit to another person, whether or not that person is disabled.

What troubled me most about the article is the almost cavalier attitude of the people interviewed and in charge of enforcing these provisions.

The police are supposed to enforce the MVA. That there is “ample parking” does not factor into the discussion.

Maybe there would be fewer violations if “officer discretion” was not used so frequently and a few fines were levied.

Announcing that a vehicle should be moved does not deter the practice, but towing the vehicle might.

The city “places the responsibility on the property owner to supervise and enforce use” but what business is going to go out and alienate a customer by effectively enforcing a provision of the Motor Vehicle Act and a parking space required by city bylaw?

I would also be curious to know from the RCMP how many “officer’s discretions” have been used and how many fines issued in the last say, 10 years.

So what they are all saying is that a person with a disability does not have enough daily challenges, we will now ask them to do the job of monitoring by “raising concerns with the property owner” as well?

Astonishing! No wonder the city has received no complaints.

Why would anyone bother?

Helmut Giesbrecht,

Terrace, B.C.

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