Leave those handicapped parking spaces alone

Readers are increasingly frustrated with inconsiderate drivers, writes columnist Claudette Sandecki

A reader posted this comment January 16 on The Terrace Standard’s website:

“In Safeway parking lot yesterday, three able-bodied drivers pulled in, almost all at once in their pickup trucks. Two trucks had company ID on the doors. Together, they took up six prime parking spots near Safeway’s doors – two of them for handicapped…and three in no parking zones.”

Maybe, like Dr. Niles Crane’s TV wife on “Fraser,” these truck drivers believe their chocolate allergies entitle them to handicapped parking.

You can feel this reader’s frustration with these inconsiderate drivers. But what to do about them?

SPARC BC, the Social Planning and Research Council of B.C. who assign handicapped parking permits to disabled drivers, has an accessibility and enforcement line that community members and bylaw officers can call to report situations where people misuse disability parking spaces.

“We encourage a zero tolerance for abuse/misuse of designated disability parking spaces and work in collaboration with local governments, private businesses and other stakeholders to enforce the use of these spaces.

Some people call the enforcement line directly (604-718-7734), while others prefer to take pictures of the incident with their smart phone and email them to us at permits@sparc.bc.ca. Individuals also have the option of calling our toll free number at 1-888-718-7794.”

In the case of these two company trucks with I.D. on their doors, why not phone or email your infringement report to the employer as well as SPARC? Bet the company would be displeased to find one of their trucks blatantly ignoring handicapped parking rules; it mars their expensively refined public image as good corporate citizens.

“At the time of the 2011 Census,” SPARC says, “there were 2,910 people in Terrace with health or activity limitations. With an aging population, it is anticipated that the number of people with disabilities and serious health conditions will increase, which will further increase demand for these spaces.”

With downtown Terrace squeezed for parking spaces now, where will everyone park in the future?

We are all so reluctant to walk a step or two beyond a business’s front door though we may be healthy and normally mobile.

We can assist the bylaw officer by supplying evidence he can use in levying of fines or proceeding to court.

Take a photo (two if necessary) of the illegally parked vehicle showing its license number and if possible, including background identifying exactly where the vehicle was parked.

The photo will display the date and time of improper parking.

If illegal handicapped parking is a recurrent bother to you, pre-program your phone with SPARC’s contacts, and include City Hall, Terrace’s bylaw officer, and the RCMP.

Enforcement of handicapped parking on private property such as Safeway, Save-on-Foods or Walmart is the responsibility of the property owner, but the RCMP can, if so inclined, ticket any vehicle illegally parked anywhere at any time.

SPARC “appreciates the recent planning efforts of the City of Terrace to respond to community concerns about downtown parking and enforcement. In particular, we applaud them for engaging with the community around this issue and looking into expanding their bylaw enforcement team.

If illegal handicapped parking is to be curbed, we all need to be vigilant and report abusers.

To avoid personal confrontations, report abusers by phone or email.

Claudette Sandecki observes life in the region from her home in Thornhill, B.C.