Price of city parking permits for disabled people could increase

Disabled people who pay to park under the city’s parking for disabled persons program could have to pay more for their permit in Saskatoon.

The community standard’s parking services section is proposing changes to the program and discussed them with the city’s accessibility advisory committee Friday.

The permit to park in paid city spots without using a meter costs $20 annually, but the city has suggested hiking that fee up to $100 per year. Regina’s fee is $150, according to the city.

Debbie Windsor has osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease, and uses a wheelchair. She said the proposed increase isn’t feasible for disabled people on fixed incomes and that she likely won’t purchase a permit if the fee increases.

“We don’t come down here enough to warrant that and it’s just too much money just to park,” she said, adding that she’s surprised the city would suggest the increase.

The city’s acting director of community standards Jo-Anne Richter said the current $20 fee hasn’t been increased in many years and more people are using the program.

About 9,500 blue placards that hang in vehicles have been issued in Saskatoon. A silver hologram sticker is placed on the placard the $20 city permit is purchased, allowing people to park in city spots without paying at a meter.

The city said it may also be time for an increase due to ongoing cost issues and people misusing the permits. She said the city wants to ensure only people who need the permits are using them.

“(An increase would help) better cover some of the costs of not having to pay at the meter,” Richter said, adding parking fees have increased. “Also to maybe help relieve some of the potential misuse of that.”

As it stands, people with the sticker are supposed to move their vehicle every 36 hours but aren’t doing that. Parking services is also suggesting people with disabled permits must move their vehicle based on the posted sign in the parking area – typically three hours.

“People are parking for very lengthy periods of time and we’re not seeing the turnover on the streets that’s intended for the paid parking areas,” Richter said.

Windsor is concerned three hours doesn’t give disabled people enough time to complete errands, appointments and other outings downtown.

“It takes extra time to get the wheelchair out of the car and get me into the building,” she said. “It can take longer and then if it snows that creates more of an obstacle.”

Richter said the proposed changes are still in the early stages and community standards would like to do more consultation with groups including with the accessibility advisory committee. She said the goal is to have a report finalized by this fall.

Richter said if an increase to the permit is approved, the city could consider a subsidy program for those who may not be able to afford the increase.

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