Force trying to keep parking lots safe
Blue-zone parking is not a privilege, and those who illegally park there are taking away access for those who need it, says Kelly White.
The RNC has just completed an operation targeting parking in blue zone and safety areas. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram
The executive director of the Coalition of Persons With Disabilities Newfoundland and Labrador attended a news conference held by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) Tuesday to announce its findings from a three-week initiative where officers targeted drivers who didn’t abide by the rules of parking lots under the provincial Traffic Act.
“Many persons with disabilities would prefer not to have a disability and not to have to use these spaces,” White told reporters.
“But for persons with disabilities, it is the only way they can access the services in our communities. Whether it be a grocery store, school or a movie theatre, it doesn’t matter — everybody has a right to all the services offered in our community,” she said.
White said when people are in wheelchairs they need the space to get in and out of their vehicles, and they need to be able to park close to the entrance near the curb cut so they can get in the buildings.
“When people who don’t need those spaces park there what it does is impedes access and inclusion for persons with disabilities,” she said.
As a result of complaints to the RNC regarding improper and illegal parking by motorists in some company parking lots in the St. John’s area, the force set up the strategy.
During Operation Firecap, officers handed out hundreds of tickets to people who refused to adhere to parking rules and regulations.
During the news conference Tuesday, RNC Sgt. Brian Gosse of patrol services said eight officers were assigned to four units between April 16 to May 5 monitoring several businesses and the behaviours of drivers in parking lots.
“During that time 189 summary offence tickets were issued for blue zone and safety zone violations. There were also 355 summary offence tickets issued for vehicles parked in fire lanes, and 143 were issued for other various offences such as being parked in a crosswalk or next to fire hydrants, speeding, on cellphones, that sort of thing,” Gosse told reporters.
He said during the RNC initiative, officers also noticed a theft in progress, made an arrest and recovered stolen property. They also noticed illegal drugs in a vehicle which were seized which is under investigation.
Gosse said aside from the more than 600 tickets issued, officers also spoke to several people and told them that what they were doing was illegal, they could be ticketed were told to move.
“Ticketing for parking violations falls on the patrol division so an officer is responsible for their area, all those stores in the area stores, plus the investigations, plus the calls for service so there is limited enforcement so sometimes it takes a combined effort to make a difference,” said Gosse when asked about continued parking lot enforcement.
He said some businesses have put orange pylons in their safety-zones to try to make it easier for people to get in and out, but even that doesn’t deter some people.
“It seems you can do as much as you can there is always somebody who doesn’t listen,” he said.
White said the province’s Building Accessibility Code requires businesses to devote four per cent of their parking spaces to blue zones, however that is lacking.
She said with an aging population and more people becoming disabled through accidents and illnesses, more spaces will be needed.
“More people are requiring them and we really hope the people who don’t will understand the importance of them,” said White.