Steep fines don’t deter disabled parking scofflaws

Steep fines don't deter disabled parking scofflaws Whitehorse drivers continue to abuse accessible parking stalls, according to the city's latest numbers.

Whitehorse drivers continue to abuse accessible parking stalls, according to the city’s latest numbers.

Bylaw officers have issued 44 tickets in the past three months to scofflaws caught parking in disabled parking spots, according to the quarterly report of the city’s public health and safety committee.

Dave Pruden, the city’s bylaw chief, said the number of tickets issued fluctuates from month to month. It also depends on the amount of effort his department can put in, he said.

“In earlier parts of the year we didn’t have officers doing as much with accessible parking because we were short-staffed,” he said.

On any given day, a traffic officer and two meter attendants monitor those spaces around the city, Pruden said.

To date, 116 tickets have been issued in 2014 for misuse of disabled spaces. In comparison, only 43 tickets had been issued by the same time last year.

“I think there is quite an abuse with it,” Pruden said.

“I think people figure they can get away with it. I don’t think people are using it for a long time, maybe just a few minutes, but folks with disabilities needs those spots.”

In 2010, the Yukon government amended its Motor Vehicles Act so the city could ticket drivers illegally parked in handicapped spaces on private property.

The city raised the penalty for illegally parking in accessible parking stalls to $250, from $25.

But despite the steep fine and an extensive education campaign, drivers continue to misuse the parking spots.

Approaching Christmas time, bylaw officers will be encouraged to monitor those parking spots even closer, Pruden said.

“It can be viewed as Scrooge-like, but people with disabilities need to shop too,” he said.

“I don’t like hitting people up during the holidays because I’d prefer for them to keep their money in the economy. But we have to make sure all the folks who have disabilities have those spots available.”