Drivers abusing disabled parking permits: group

The City of Richmond is tweaking its bylaws in an attempt to stop able-bodied drivers from using disabled parking permits to save money.

The city currently allows anyone with a permit to park for free at city meters, but the Richmond Centre for Disability says that privilege is being abused all too often.

“We’ve got a lot of complaints from general community members when they witness someone using a parking permit but they don’t look [to have] any disability,” the centre’s executive director Ella Huang told CTV News.

“We find that this free parking privilege is a big driver for [able-bodied] people to take their car and park there for the whole day.”

The city is now moving to scrap the free parking privilege altogether, except for drivers whose disability makes them unable to physically reach the meters. They’ll be given a special decal for their car that will exempt them from paying.

Motorists like Dina McInnes, who drives a van equipped to load and unload her wheelchair, said Richmond also has a problem with able-bodied drivers parking in designated handicapped spots.

“Something needs to happen. It really does make a difference if people misuse them” McInnes said. “If I don’t find a spot that’s wide enough for my van with a side lift to get in, I can’t get out of a car.”

The new bylaw is expected to take effect in a few months.

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Jina You

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