Mount Pearl, COD-NL looking at accessibility

Bonnie Belec
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City wants to become more disability friendly

The City of Mount Pearl is teaming up with the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities (COD) to review how the city is doing on the accessibility friendly scale.

The most recent review of Mount Pearl’s blue zone parking, released in 2012, shows 35 per cent are complying with regulations. However, 42 per cent are not and 23 have either a sign or a spaces painted blue. The city and the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities Newfoundland and Labrador are conducting an audit to see just how accessible it is. Coleman’s in Centennial Square has the proper signage in place.

In October 2012, the city released findings from a study it conducted around blue zone legislation compliance which found 42 per cent of all businesses and buildings surveyed had no signage or logos.

The government amended its blue zone legislation Feb. 3, 2012 “to clarify the requirement for permanent (rather than movable) vertical signs to designate these parking spaces to ensure they are visible year-round,” according to a recent email from Service NL.

These changes came into effect for new buildings Feb. 15, 2012 and for existing properties Sept.30, 2012.

Mount Pearl’s review also re­vealed 35 per cent of the businesses were following the regulations by having the signage and the blue zone parking in place and the remaining 23 per cent had one or the other.

“I don’t know where the numbers lie at this moment. That will be part of the new information. I wouldn’t say it’s changed a great deal,” said Coun. Andrew Ledwell, chairman of the planning and development committee, and a member of the transportation and public safety committee.

“Ideally, we’d like to see 100 per cent compliance with blue zone parking and 100 per cent accessibility to all buildings in the city,” he said.

 

Pleased with review

Kelly White, COD NL’s executive director, said she’s looking forward to the accessibility review with Mount Pearl.

“It’s really exciting what’s happening,” she said.

“We are pleased to be working with the City of Mount Pearl to conduct an audit of blue zone parking. Mount Pearl is a tremendously welcoming city and wants to ensure that it is fully accessible to everyone that lives, works and plays in their city. They see a huge benefit in having COD conduct this audit as a means to improve accessibility in their city and to heighten the awareness around disability in the city of Mount Pearl,” says White.

While the review is only in the initial stages, Ledwell said it will involve exploring some options about how to make city facilities more accessible.

He said it could include bringing in new regulations or policies around blue zones and parking lots, or ways to improve washroom facilities, and who has what, but it will be about more accessibility for everyone who has a disability.

“We’re willing to work with our business community to make all buildings more accessible, but right now we can only talk about city facilities,” he said.

“In terms of enforcing regulations, we can only enforce parking, but what we can do is work with the chamber and organizations to create a buzz around positive messaging, encourage people to make sure they have adequate blue zone parking and ask people to use it properly,” said Ledwell.

Fines for violations

Municipal enforcement officers and police can fine people for parking in blue zones without having a permit, but when it comes to all buildings having the international sign for disability parking and a blue-painted parking area, the government is the enforcer.

According to the email from Service NL, it has issued 56 orders out of 865 regular inspections performed between April 2012 and December 2013.

 It says inspectors also conducted a blitz inspection in the fall of 2013 to assess adherence to the new regulations, which targeted big box stores and strip malls in St. John’s, Mount Pearl, Clarenville and Marystown.

“These types of buildings were chosen because of their previous practice of removing free-standing signs for snowboarding during the winter months,” says the email.

“We inspected 81 building parking lots for compliance with the requirements for permanently fixed blue zone signage, resulting in 15 orders being issued. These numbers are independent of and in addition to the statistics for regular inspections,” according to the statement.

If municipalities are aware of any businesses that are not complying, they can contact the department’s engineering and inspection services division.

As part of the new blue zone regulations, the province also increased fines for illegally parking in the zones.

bbelec@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Service NL.These

Geographic location: Mount Pearl, Marystown

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  • Down Syndrome
    April 08, 2014 - 02:05

    ClubMates are very proud to support the Boccia Tryout for the special Olympics. AUssie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi For more info visit: Down Syndrome

  • Jean
    March 15, 2014 - 13:52

    The disable parking spots could be wider...My husband drives his wheelchair van and there is never enough room for him to get out..No room to open the door and put down the ramp..I know you can only do so much, but it would be great if only one in each section would be available for this and the sign says "vans" only...Just a suggestion...

  • Dave Chislett
    March 15, 2014 - 13:27

    I think the access to parks or even to businesses should be considered as " Blue Zones". I see people parking in these areas and it makes it almost impossible to get access when you are in a wheel chair, I have called the municipal police about this and have been told that they did not enforce these or something to that effect. After reading the information on same from the Mount Pearl web site they did come and the person did move. I have seen people in company vans park there and refuse to move even when asked to do so. They have told me that they had an agreement with the city to block these areas if they wanted to park there. The municipal police either were not advised at this time or did not respond.

  • Big Guy
    March 15, 2014 - 12:10

    I have a 60 inch waist. The full length of my belt goes from my head to toe. I can not open my car door wide enough to get in after someone parks too close to me. I constantly have to think about where and how I park to prevent this from happening. Sometimes, I have had to opt to not go inside a place as there is no where for me to park even though there are lots of empty spots. If someone parks too close to me, I have to do something either humiliating or risky. I have to get that person paged to come out to move their car or ask a random average sized stranger in the parking lot to get in my car and pull it out of the spot for me. By regulation, blue zones are supposed to be larger to accommodate wheelchairs. This wider spot would be very useful for a person my size as it allows ease of access. However, blue zone permit regulation do not allow for the disability of morbidly obese. I need to be afforded some decency that everyone else gets in a parking lot and be allowed to use the wider blue zones. I guess I could park in a wider pink zone with the extra space next to the blue zone and not get a ticket as they are only courtesy, but being a man... Somethins must be done.

    • bobby ryan
      March 15, 2014 - 15:21

      Well, maybe that should motivate you to lose some weight!

    • Big Guy
      March 16, 2014 - 07:09

      @ Bobby Ryan: You show the typical hate and discrimation the disabled, including the obese, face each and everyday. There is a big difference between half the population being slightly overweight and the small minority of people who are morbidly obese with an extra few hundred pounds on. In most cases those who are quite large, like myself, have other issues that contribute to their size that are not curable or easily treatable. It is not a matter of being motivated to lose some weight. I guess you are the same type of person who would tell the blind to go eat more carrots or the paraplegic to work on their quads.

    • bobby ryan
      March 16, 2014 - 16:13

      Sorry but you are way off!!! Those extra hundred pounds didn't just appear overnight. It was YOUR unhealthy choices that made you that way. I'm sure the blind and quadriplegic people would love to hear how you think that your obesity is the same as their disabilty. I think that that all those extra fat cells have replaced your brain cells!

    • hslaw
      March 16, 2014 - 17:36

      I feel I must speak out the gentleman making a remark about loosin weight I am 55 years old When I was 50 I was running everyday and eating good I worked two jobs and contributed greatly to society because I was in health care I now weigh in access over 600 pounds because a little fluke thing that invaded my body and shut down my lymphatic system Don't judge what you know nothing about

  • Denise
    March 15, 2014 - 12:09

    Kudos to the City of Mount Pearl for being a leader in the never ending battle to ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities. As a person with a disability living in Mount Pearl I am aware that the City has taken the issue of accessibility seriously for the last several years. It is unfortunate that Mount Pearl Enforcement are not empowered to act on violations by business owners. For instance, signage compliance and snow clearing in the parking lots is completely out of the City's jurisdiction and there is a clear and absolute problem of plow operators dumping the snow directly onto the blue zone space covering the space and making parking, if not impossible, certainly treacherous. This is not something the City can address. My experience with City staff is that they would most assuredly tackle the business enforcement with the same fervor that they afford parking violators. The provincial government would be wise to conduct their blitz, not in the fall, but in the middle of winter when snow is on the ground. This is when the problems arise, usually because of poor snow clearing and signs being destroyed by the snow plows. Let's hope this is just the beginning and that COD NL receives similar invitations from St. John's and other municipalities in Newfoundland and Labrador.

  • darrell
    March 15, 2014 - 12:00

    Go to the Glacier and check out the blue spots. You would think half of Mt. Pearl are disabled and yet I've never seen one of those spots used by a person with a disability. Time to re-focus and look at reality. Society is trying to be everything to everyone. No disrespect to the disabled, might be me tomorrow, but let's really about this stuff.

    • Denise
      March 15, 2014 - 15:35

      Well, "darrell" if you aren't disabled then walking those few extra feet shouldn't be a hardship for you. And, by the way, having a disability and trying to get around is my reality. I never asked to be born with a disability. I would love to have the option to walk that extra distance.

    • patrick
      March 15, 2014 - 18:50

      I agree with you Darrell. I have respect for the disabled but why so many blue spaces?