Smackdown needed for handicapped parking scofflaws

For able-bodied drivers who flagrantly park in handicapped spaces, Whitehorse is a legal haven. On private property, such as in a drugstore parking lot, city officials have no power to ticket these offenders. The result is

For able-bodied drivers who flagrantly park in handicapped spaces, Whitehorse is a legal haven.

On private property, such as in a drugstore parking lot, city officials have no power to ticket these offenders.

The result is a culture of parking violation, said Rick Goodfellow, chair of the persons with disabilities advisory committee.

“Just go through the Qwanlin Mall sometime, there are three stalls in front of the Shopper’s Drug Mart … usually two out of three of the cars in those spaces don’t have placards,” said Goodfellow.

“If you talk to those folks, they’ll tell you, ‘Oh, I’m just running in for a minute,’” he said.

Parking attendants are well versed in ticketing handicapped parking offenders on public property, but a minor amendment to the Yukon Motor Vehicles Act would be needed before they can bring justice to Whitehorse’s drugstore and supermarket parking lots.

“We’ve been working on possibly updating that act, but at this point in time, amendments to the act are not scheduled,” said Vern Janz, director of transport services for the Yukon government.

On Monday, Whitehorse council joined the Association of Yukon Communities in calling for the territory to take action on the act.

“If you happen to be in (a handicapped space) right now, you should probably move your vehicle,” Mayor Bev Buckway told council delegates.

A plan to amend the act had already been in place, complete with funding, said a city report.

It was cancelled with “no reason given,” it said.

For wheelchair users, handicapped stalls represent not just a proximity to the door, but the necessary space by which to get in and out of a vehicle.

“If I park in a normal stall, someone will park close enough to me that I can’t get my chair down in between the cars,” said Goodfellow.

Complaints of parking violations have often been received at the persons with disabilities advisory committee, most of them from able-bodied motorists, said Goodfellow.

Contact Tristin Hopper at

tristinh@yukon-news.com

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