The executive director of the Hub says designated parking woes in St. John’s won’t improve until the city cracks down on people who share their permit with others.
The city announced last month it is looking to hike fines for people who park illegally in wheelchair-designated spaces from $75 to $400
“If you get caught giving (the permit) to a family member or a friend, that’s where the fine should be increased,” Tom Badcock said.
Service NL issues permits for blue zone parking. Those applying for a permit must have a doctor or nurse practitioner complete a form which is available through motor registration offices throughout the province.
Permit seekers are not required to have a driver’s licence or a vehicle. While permits can be used in any vehicle that the permit holder is a passenger in, the Service NL website clearly states that permits are not transferable and cannot be loaned to anyone else.
Badcock says people with permanent disabilities who own a vehicle should have a wheelchair permit displayed on their licence plate. People who don’t own a vehicle should have their photo on the permit, he said.
Jim Kelly has been permanently disabled since 1988. He uses a wheelchair for mobility.
Kelly said he’s often been asked for a loan of his permit which sits on the dash of his car. It shouldn’t be that easy to share, he says.
“The permit is attached to a person, not a car, but I’ve always said that it should be attached to your licence plate,” Kelly said.
Drivers also need to remember that it’s illegal to park in a blue zone and stay in the car to wait until someone with a disability returns to the vehicle, Kelly said.
“The person could be into the mall, and whoever brought them there will park in that spot for an hour or more just waiting for them.”
Kelly also wonders if the rates are hiked, how the city will enforce the law. Police are nabbing people regularly who have racked up thousands of dollars in unpaid fines, he said.
Coun. Tom Hann said he supports increasing the fines to $400 — the maximum permitted by the province.
Hann said he’s often seen people parking in a blue zone without a permit and, in one case, asked RNC officers who were in the area to find out who owned the car and ask them to move the vehicle.
When asked about problems with enforcement, Hann said people who see others abuse the permit system should call the RNC or the city to report the abuse.
“Report them right on the spot, and somebody should get out there and make sure that the tickets are issued.”
Hann is optimistic that increasing the fines will be a deterrent to those who break the law.
“Even if it cuts down 10 or 15 per cent, it’s better than what we’re doing now,” he said.
The city is also looking to increase fines for expired meters from $15 to $25.
Both proposals will be before council on Monday.