Posts Tagged "disabilities"

16Jun

B.C. advocate says proposed federal COVID-19 benefit for Canadians with disabilities leaves many with nothing | CBC News

by admin

The federal government is considering a one-time emergency benefit for people with disabilities to help them cope with the added costs imposed by the pandemic, but a B.C.-based disability advocate says even if the legislation does pass, it won’t go far enough.

Heather Walkus, first vice chair of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, says the legislation only applies to people who currently receive a disability tax credit, which she says is only about 40 per cent of Canadians living with disability.

According to Walkus, the majority of people receiving government money due to a disability receive the Canada Pension Plan Disability (CPPD) benefit and those individuals will not receive the $600 payment recently debated in the House of Commons.

“You are leaving about 60 per cent of people with disabilities in Canada without those supports,” said WalkusTuesday on The Early Edition.

Legislation in limbo

The Liberal government announced their proposed new benefit on June 5. However, the plan remains in limbo after the bill, C-17, failed to secure unanimous consent in the House of Commons on June 10.

The Commons adjourned without any sort of resolution, with the parties at an impasse over how to proceed. 

All of the opposition parties — not just the Conservatives — had problems with the bill as written.

NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh, raised the same concerns as Walkus and asked for the disability payments to be sent to more people.

“We are already struggling with inclusion, accessibility and poverty and those are issues that have been opened up greatly in the COVID response,” said Walkus, adding the disability community suffered disproportionately to the rest of the population due to the pandemic.

She said specific examples include: lack of accessible accommodation for people with disabilities who need to self-isolate, reduced home support staff, lack of personal protective equipment, challenges accessing information for the blind community, and challenges accessing appointments and stores because of reduced public transportation service.

“Most systems in the emergency response plan did not contemplate people with disabilities,” said Walkus, adding the government should have included disability advocates in conversations about emergency provisions at the onset of the health crisis.

There are approximately six million people living with a disability in Canada.

Tap here to hear the complete interview with Heather Walkus on The Early Edition.

28May

Province celebrates British Columbians with disabilities

by admin

British Columbia kicks off its third annual AccessAbility Week with $500,000 in grants to not-for-profit organizations for local accessibility projects.

The grants, which range from $10,000 to $40,000 depending on a project’s size and scope, will be distributed by Disability Alliance BC (DABC).

“AccessAbility Week is an opportunity for everyone to celebrate diversity and inclusion, and to highlight the importance of accessibility,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “As a government, we’re working to identify and remove barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating in daily life. This new funding supports that work.”

A call for proposals will be posted on the DABC website in summer 2020, and grants will be awarded by the end of the year. Last year, 14 organizations received funding for accessibility projects in their communities.

“Disability Alliance BC is thrilled to be distributing another round of grants to community organizations across B.C. to promote accessibility and inclusion in the province,” said Justina Loh, executive director of DABC. “In the past two years, we have seen some very innovative and creative projects come to life, and we have seen the number of people impacted by these community projects. We look forward to supporting more organizations across the province and hope that new organizations apply for funding this year.”

Projects can include accessible education and learning, sports and recreation, arts, culture and tourism, community participation, emergency planning and response, and accessible employment.

The Province proclaimed May 31 to June 6, 2020, as B.C.’s third AccessAbility week to promote inclusion and accessibility, and to recognize the people and organizations who are working to make B.C. a more inclusive and welcoming province for people with disabilities. The dates are the same as national AccessAbility week.

Quick Facts:

  • AccessAbility week highlights the efforts of people, communities and workplaces that are actively removing barriers so people of all abilities have a better chance to succeed.
  • This is the third year these grants are being made available.
  • As of 2017, there are more than 926,000 British Columbians over the age of 15 with some form of disability.

Learn More:

For information about B.C. government accessibility initiatives, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/about-the-bc-government/accessibility/background/accessibility-leadership

To read the AccessAbility week proclamation, visit: http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/proclamations/proclamations/AccessAbilityWeek2020

9Mar

Right mindset the key to pushing past physical disabilities, Paralympian says | CBC News

by admin

The journey to becoming a top Paralympic swimmer started when Stephanie Dixon saw herself in someone she admired. 

Dixon was born with one leg and wore a prosthetic. As a child, she struggled to identify with people in positions of power or influence. But there was one day each year where anything felt possible.

“On the Terry Fox run every September, I was the cool kid who ran just like Terry Fox,” she told CBC’s The Early Edition. 

“As a child with a disability it was hard to feel cool and like I fit in. So on that one day every single year, I got to be just like my hero, Terry Fox.”

The 19-time Paralympic medallist is Canada’s chef de mission for the 2020 Paralympic Games. She is also a health and wellness coach for the third season of Mind Set Go, a documentary series that shows the journey of how Canadians living with disabilities, injuries or chronic pain reach their goals for a healthier future.

As a Paralympian, she’s become a role model for the show’s participants, showing them how much they can accomplish with the right mindset. 

Stephanie Dixon won seven gold medals during her Paralympic swimming career. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

One participant acquired her disability later in life, after having two strokes. It changed her life dramatically, but she wanted to maintain her independence and be able to keep up with her grandkids. Dixon said it was inspiring to see her gain confidence throughout the course of the show. 

“There’s some physical challenges that they all face, but even more so than that was challenges in their mindset,” Dixon said.

“Things that were holding them back from just beliefs about ourselves and what we can accomplish.”

Dixon said she believes shows like Mind Set Go show just how much the human body can accomplish when people believe they are capable. 

“We all need role models, but most importantly role models that we identify with,” she said.

It’s also making Canada more inclusive and connected by helping viewers understand the challenges — and capabilities — of people with disabilities,” she added. 

She said she’s seen positive change within society throughout her lifetime in how people with disabilities are understood and accepted.

She said it is an honour to represent Canadian Paralympians this summer.

“We are becoming much more accessible physically, inclusive from an emotional and community standpoint,” she said.

“I do feel like a valued, appreciated, heard and seen member of society and I have a visible disability … we are making progress.”

1Mar

‘Our lives are worth living’: Remembering those with disabilities who were murdered

by admin

BURNABY —
A solemn group of two dozen gathered in Burnaby Sunday to remember those whose lives were cut short at the hands of loved ones.

The annual Disability Day of Mourning is a vigil dedicated to raising awareness that some people with disabilities are killed by caretakers and family members.

“Many of us organizing, and many attending, do have disabilities ourselves,” said Vivian Ly, one of the founders of Autistics United Canada. “A lot of us have had violence enacted on us by our caretakers. A lot of questions that come up are, ‘Am I next?’”

“[The vigil] is sending the message that our lives are worth living; that these murders are not justified,” she said.

In preparing for this year’s event, Ly researched one of Metro Vancouver’s latest victims, Florence Girard, a 54-year-old Port Coquitlam woman who had Down syndrome.

Girard was found starved and malnourished in October 2018; she weighed just 56 pounds. Her case was not brought to light until this year, when her caretaker was formally charged in her death.

“She did not deserve such a horrific death,” Ly said. “She deserved way better from those who were responsible for her care.”

She doesn’t want to focus on the circumstances of Girard’s death and pending court case, but rather remember the life that she led. She told the crowd the 54-year-old was funny, liked to take photos and swam competitively.

“We want to remember them as people,” Ly said. “People like us. And they had voices, too – even if they were silenced too soon.”

During the vigil, Sam McCulligh, another organizer, read a list of victims from across the country who have died since this type of death began being officially recorded.

“When I read the list, I just think about how many people have been senselessly murdered,” he said.

The list contains 61 names, but McCulligh believes there are many more cases that didn’t get reported.

For example, the list dates back to the early 1940s, but only two cases are mentioned before it jumps to a victim in 1977. Then there’s another large gap before Tracy Latimer’s name is mentioned.

The 12-year-old Saskatchewan girl was killed by her father in 1993. Robert Latimer served 10 years in prison and when he was released, he said he had no regrets about killing her.

The father always claimed he killed her out of compassion to end her daily pain and suffering.

“It’s extremely disturbing to me that he’s been receiving so much support after essentially murdering his own daughter,” McCulligh said. “A lot of times, we aren’t viewed as full people; our lives are viewed as tragedies, viewed as burdens.”

He said that is why it is so important to hold events like the vigil to raise awareness that a disability should not result in a death sentence. 

3Dec

Meet 3 Vancouverites shattering stereotypes about their disabilities | CBC News

by admin

A blind artist, a motivational speaker who can’t speak and a young mom with arthritis: these are just three of the Vancouverites shattering stereotypes by simply living their lives. 

Richard Harlow lost most of his sight halfway through his studies at Emily Carr University in 2010 and is now legally blind. Although he stopped painting for a few years after his diagnosis of a rare vision condition, he picked it back up again recently with a renewed passion. 

“When you’re a person with a disability, you have to think outside of the box,” he said. 

“I’m all about breaking the rules — not breaking the law but just breaking generic rules, because, sometimes, these rules are created by able bodied people.” 

Harlow makes his artwork as accessible as possible, painting with vibrant colours and different textures. He also hangs his pieces at eye-level for people with mobility devices. 

Richard Harlow paints bright, textured pieces of work that make them more accessible for others with visual impairments. (Submitted by Hayley Brown)

“I question why, in art galleries, people are not allowed to touch the art,” he said. 

“[I] make paintings that are tactile so people with visual impairment can have a parallel experience at the art gallery.” 

Harlow’s not the only one with a stereotype-breaking career. 

Glenda Watson Hyatt, who has cerebral palsy, can’t walk or speak. She uses a bright red motorized scooter to get around and an iPad to voice her words. 

Glenda Watson Hyatt, a cerebral palsy advocate, overcame her fear of public speaking in 2010 and started doing motivational keynote speeches. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

A few years ago, she decided to face her fears of public speaking and become a motivational speaker. 

“I love the delicious irony of this career choice,” she said.

Glenda Watson Hyatt says having to use her scooter to get around can be challenging — but struggling to communicate is that much harder. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Watson Hyatt completed her first TED talk last month. In order to get her message across, she types words into her iPad which then plays it as audio. 

“The majority of our society links the ability to speak with the ability to hear and to understand,” she said. 

That’s one of the issues Tuesday’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities is trying to highlight. The annual event, first proclaimed by the United Nations in 1992, is a global push for more awareness and inclusion.

Glenda Watson Hyatt uses her iPad to speak. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

This year, the focus is promoting people with disabilities in positions of leadership. 

“Now is the time for people with speech and language disabilities to be equally acknowledged and accommodated, and to have a seat at the table,” Watson Hyatt said. 

For 33-year-old Eileen Davidson, one of the struggles of dealing with a chronic illness is how invisible it can be to others. She has rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic auto-immune disease that’s often associated with seniors. 

The list of complications and side-effects is long and wide-ranging, from debilitating fatigue and a lowered immune system to inflammation of different organs and recurring infections. 

Eileen Davidson says a common misconception about rheumatoid arthritis is that’s just joint pain but, in reality, the complications are wide-ranging and can be debilitating. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

“I have a lot of things going on with me, but you can’t tell by looking at me,” she said. 

With her flaming red hair and multiple tattoos, Davidson can seem like a live wire on first appearance. She’s a single mom who still finds time to regularly hit the gym and do advocacy work. 

But that means she’s often the subject of scepticism from people who don’t understand the extent of chronic illness, she said. 

“Listen with an open ear and without judgment and show support, compassion and kindness,” Davidson urged. 

3Dec

Meet 3 British Columbians shattering stereotypes about their disabilities | CBC News

by admin

A blind artist, a motivational speaker who can’t speak and a young mom with arthritis: These are just three of the British Columbians shattering stereotypes by simply living their lives. 

Richard Harlow lost most of his sight halfway through his studies at Emily Carr University in 2010 and is now legally blind. Although he stopped painting for a few years after his diagnosis of a rare vision condition, he picked it back up again recently with a renewed passion. 

“When you’re a person with a disability, you have to think outside of the box,” he said. 

“I’m all about breaking the rules — not breaking the law but just breaking generic rules, because, sometimes, these rules are created by able bodied people.” 

Harlow makes his artwork as accessible as possible, painting with vibrant colours and different textures. He also hangs his pieces at eye-level for people with mobility devices. 

Richard Harlow paints bright, textured pieces of work that make them more accessible for others with visual impairments. (Submitted by Hayley Brown)

“I question why, in art galleries, people are not allowed to touch the art,” he said. 

“[I] make paintings that are tactile so people with visual impairment can have a parallel experience at the art gallery.” 

Harlow’s not the only one with a stereotype-breaking career. 

Glenda Watson Hyatt, who has cerebral palsy, can’t walk or speak. She uses a bright red motorized scooter to get around and an iPad to voice her words. 

Glenda Watson Hyatt, a cerebral palsy advocate, overcame her fear of public speaking in 2010 and started doing motivational keynote speeches. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

A few years ago, she decided to face her fears of public speaking and become a motivational speaker. 

“I love the delicious irony of this career choice,” she said.

Glenda Watson Hyatt says having to use her scooter to get around can be challenging — but struggling to communicate is that much harder. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Watson Hyatt completed her first TED talk last month. In order to get her message across, she types words into her iPad which then plays it as audio. 

“The majority of our society links the ability to speak with the ability to hear and to understand,” she said. 

That’s one of the issues Tuesday’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities is trying to highlight. The annual event, first proclaimed by the United Nations in 1992, is a global push for more awareness and inclusion.

Glenda Watson Hyatt uses her iPad to speak. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

This year, the focus is promoting people with disabilities in positions of leadership. 

“Now is the time for people with speech and language disabilities to be equally acknowledged and accommodated, and to have a seat at the table,” Watson Hyatt said. 

For 33-year-old Eileen Davidson, one of the struggles of dealing with a chronic illness is how invisible it can be to others. She has rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic auto-immune disease that’s often associated with seniors. 

The list of complications and side-effects is long and wide-ranging, from debilitating fatigue and a lowered immune system to inflammation of different organs and recurring infections. 

Eileen Davidson says a common misconception about rheumatoid arthritis is that’s just joint pain but, in reality, the complications are wide-ranging and can be debilitating. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

“I have a lot of things going on with me, but you can’t tell by looking at me,” she said. 

With her flaming red hair and multiple tattoos, Davidson can seem like a live wire on first appearance. She’s a single mom who still finds time to regularly hit the gym and do advocacy work. 

But that means she’s often the subject of skepticism from people who don’t understand the extent of chronic illness, she said. 

“Listen with an open ear and without judgment and show support, compassion and kindness,” Davidson urged. 

16Oct

Province asking for public input on how to better support people with disabilities | CBC News

by admin

There are almost one million British Columbians over the age of 15 living with some form of disability, and the provincial government is planning to develop new laws to better support their needs by 2020.

Shane Simpson, the minister of social development and poverty reduction, said the legislation will complement the Accessible Canada Act that passed in Ottawa in June and is designed to identify and remove barriers to accessibility.

Simpson is asking for public feedback until Nov. 29 to help inform similar provincial legislation. 

“We are going to have this law in place next year is my expectation,” said Simpson in an interview on CBC’s The Early Edition Wednesday, adding the legislation will create a standards board that will set rules focusing on five specific areas including: employment access, customer service delivery, information and communication accessibility, as well as transportation and built environment — which includes access to buildings and infrastructure such as sidewalks.

Simpson said he has heard already from individuals and organizations that finding employment is a top priority for many people living with a disability. 

 “We keep getting nods from people in the business community and now the trick is to get there,” he said. 

Employment a top priority

Justina Loh, executive director of Disability Alliance BC, said a lot needs to be done in terms of service delivery to help create full or part-time employment that is accessible to all British Columbians. 

“There are a lot of people with disabilities who want to work,” said Loh. “They just haven’t had the opportunity.”

Simpson said he is hopeful real change is coming in B.C. and wants to hear exactly what people want those changes to be.

“People who are living with disabilities know the kind of things that they want to see and they are the people we are trying to talk to in this process,” he said.

The public can provide feedback online, by telephone, and in-person at scheduled town hall events. 

Organizations and advocates can also submit formal submissions to the government online during the public consultation process.

Information is available here

10Oct

What do you do if you want to sing and help people with disabilities at the same time? Start a choir | CBC News

by admin

When Nicole Provost wanted to start a choir in her hometown of Abbotsford, B.C., in 2015, she had a few things working against her.

Firstly, she didn’t know any singers.

She was, however, willing to spend a little cash on coffee and promotional T-shirts and, sometimes, that’s all you need to kickstart a dream.

“I actually paid a bunch of little girls in Starbucks gift cards to put on choir shirts,” she said, laughing. “They posed for pictures so I could tell everyone, ‘Look, I’ve got this awesome choir.’ “

Four years later, the Mayday Club Youth Choir for Neurodiversity performs almost every weekend at festivals and community events — and is preparing to release its second album.

But it’s not their accomplishments that make Provost, 25, most proud.

She says there aren’t many programs available to people with disabilities that encourage, educate and empower them, so she created the choir to help fill that gap.

“I’m on the autism spectrum,” she said. “I just really wanted to use music to be able to teach people about inclusion and kind of reach out to them.” 

The group now consists of more than 40 members between the ages of six and 25, all of whom have a disability.

The Mayday Youth Choir For Neurodiversity performs at the Autism Speaks Canada Walk in Richmond, B.C. on October 6, 2019. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

Rock stars

The choir covers songs by everyone from Ozzy Osbourne to Lady Gaga. Their upcoming album Reasons to Dream was recorded in Vancouver’s famous Warehouse Studio owned by Canadian rocker Bryan Adams.

“It was incredible,” said Provost, whose dark hair is dyed bluish-green at the tips.

“All the parents, when they walked in, were like, ‘Whoa’ because this is where Bryan Adams recorded all their favourite songs.”

The group chooses songs with inspirational messages. When they perform, Provost serves as conductor, vocalist and hype person, bouncing in front of the choir as she belts out tunes at the top of her lungs.

“My favourite song is Million Reasons,” said vocalist Victor Smith, referring to the Lady Gaga hit. “It’s just a lot of fun.”

Big dreams

When Provost isn’t performing, she’s studying aviation, pursuing her dream of becoming a commercial pilot.

She started down that path to overcome her fear of flying.

“It got to the point where I was having nightmares about planes, so I decided to try an introductory flight just to see how it would be,” she said.

“I just really decided that I loved it and it’s just an amazing feeling to get over something that you’re scared of.”

The next challenge Provost wants to take on is organizing a national blood drive.

“It will be where people with disabilities from all over Canada go and donate blood to make a statement,” she said.

“What runs in our veins is the same, and everybody’s capable of making a difference.”

11Aug

No access: what happens to transit users with disabilities when the elevators aren’t working | CBC News

by admin

Port Moody resident Micaela Evans takes the SkyTrain and the West Coast Express commuter train everyday to get to her job in Vancouver as a communications coordinator at a non-profit that helps people with spinal cord injuries.

Typically, Evans’ daily commute to the Spinal Cord Injury BC office in South Vancouver takes her just over an hour each way.

Evans, 24, uses an electric wheelchair, so if an elevator breaks down at a SkyTrain station, or is undergoing maintenance, the delay can add an extra half hour each way to her commute. Sometimes, these elevator outages can occur several times a month.

“I have a job like anyone else, I just want to be able to get to work and be there on time,” Evans said in a phone interview.

 

She isn’t the only disabled person who has faced delays when an elevator is out of service at a SkyTrain station. Justina Loh, executive director of Disability Alliance B.C., said other people who rely on elevators because they have disabilities have complained about delays when an elevator is out of commission.

At times, Loh said staff and volunteers have arrived late for work because they’ve had to wait or because they’ve had to reroute themselves to get to work in a different way. 

“I would say it’s a pretty big issue,” Loh said.

Evans, who said she thinks TransLink’s overall service is good, said the company posts alerts on their website and Twitter to warn users when an elevator will be under maintenance. But she says the wording of these alerts are vague and puts the onus on the person with the disability to figure out a Plan B.

“They just kind of expect you to figure out how the heck you’re going to get to the next successful station,” Evans said. 

She said she’d like to see more support staff at stations to provide help, adding she’s noticed a reduction in services.

2-train commute

Each work day, Evans boards the West Coast Express at Moody Centre Station and disembarks at Waterfront. She then transfers to SkyTrain’s Canada Line and takes the train to Marine Drive station. 

She has spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disorder that affects the nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movement.

Micaela Evans, pictured here, says when the elevators break down or are under maintenance, it can add an extra half hour each way to her commute. (Micaela Evans )

TransLink spokesperson, Jill Drews said when the transit authority has scheduled elevator maintenance at one of its SkyTrain stations, it attempts to provide users with a minimum notice of three days, which it relays through tweets and on its website.

If a customer arrives at a station and isn’t aware of the outage, they can request a TransLink assistant to call a taxi, which will take them to the next station with a working elevator.

Regular elevator maintenance is necessary, Drews said. Under B.C. safety regulations, TransLink must inspect each elevator in the system once a month. There’s also a yearly inspection that’s more in-depth and can take multiple days. 

“You can imagine how catastrophic it could be if a fault, you know, trapped a customer or led to injury. That’s just not something we can risk,” Drews said. 

Loh pointed out TransLink was one of the first systems to implement the Universal Fare Gate program which uses sensors so people who can’t physically tap a Compass Card can have the fare gates open for them. 

Elevator sign at Granville Skytrain Station in Vancouver. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

But, Loh said there are still barriers for people with disabilities when it comes to taking public transportation. 

“I would say, one, it’s either just too congested, and there’s a lack of understanding and empathy from other transit users,” Loh said.

Drews said TransLink’s policy states it must have to have an attendant present when the only critical elevator to access the platform is out for maintenance or repairs. She also said the company tries to schedule maintenance during non-peak hours but there’s an industry shortage of qualified elevator technicians. 

Drews said TransLink isn’t able to offer as much money as other companies, so in order to stay competitive, it schedules technicians during daytime, meaning the work is conducted during commuting hours.

24Jul

Accessible parking scofflaws a problem for people with disabilities | CBC News

by admin

Vincel Miele feels frustration and anger when he sees an able-bodied person parking illegally in a spot designated for people with disabilities.

“For them it’s a convenience, I suppose,” said Miele, 69, as he drove through the parking lot of Lansdowne Centre in Richmond in his specially-designed van. 

Miele was injured in an accident at 21 and has used a wheelchair since. 

“It just takes away from someone that does need it and, in a lot of cases, can’t go about their business because they can’t find a parking spot where they can get in and out independently.”

Miele’s van lets him get out into the community independently, but he needs to park in a special, wider disability stall so he can use his van’s ramp to get in and out of his vehicle.

Vince Miele, 69, was injured in an accident at 21 and has used a wheelchair since. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

He wants people to know how inconsiderate it is when someone who doesn’t need the spot takes it anyway.

Miele also wants to see improvements to what he calls a patchwork system of fines and enforcement in B.C.

He said rules, penalties and enforcement levels vary across Metro Vancouver.

Vancouver, for example issued more than 1,600 tickets for parking in accessible spaces in 2018, while Surrey issued 24.

Miele would also like to see tougher fines for those who violate disability parking rules, and stricter rules for disability parking on public and private property. Fines can be as low as about $60. 

‘They swear’

While driving in another Richmond parking lot with CBC News, Miele spotted an able-bodied person with a disability parking decal in an accessible spot.

The driver said she was waiting for her mother, who has a disability. She was legally using the space but Vince doesn’t get why she had to take the spot he needed instead of waiting somewhere else.

This Canada Post truck was spotted parked in a disability parking spot on Homer Street in Vancouver. The corporation said it has launched an internal investigation. (Eric Rankin/CBC)

“It’s a problem … mostly for people that use wheelchairs because they really depend on that wider spot,” he said.

Miele spoke to the driver. The conversation went well but he said drivers can turn nasty.

“They swear. Yeah. They tell you to mind your own business,” Miele said. “They tell you to, whatever off, and sometimes worse.”

Vince Miele says when able-bodied people park in the wider accessible parking spaces — like the driver of this white van has done — it inconveniences people in wheelchair vans, like the one on the left. (Vince Miele)

Private lots make own rules

A Lansdowne Mall spokesperson said it enforces parking rules, especially for disability stalls. Offenders, she said, are fined or towed.

EasyPark vice-president Gary Kohr said private lots — the kind you might find at malls, grocery stores or below ground at some highrise towers — are only obligated to include a certain number of disability parking stalls.

The buildings’ owners arrange enforcement, he said, and can waive tickets.

Private parking lots are only required by law to maintain a certain number of accessible spots, according to one lot operator. Enforcement of lot policies is up to the owner — who has the option to waive a ticket. (Vince Miele)

“The owner of the property will define the rules of engagement,” Kohr said, adding most owners follow guidance from operating companies like EasyPark, with fines starting at about $60.

City bylaw officers have no jurisdiction over private lots, he said.

Lorraine Copas, executive director of the accessibility advocacy group SPARC BC, said police can enforce rules on private lots, if called.

A CBC News team spotted this driver on Granville Island parked in an accessible spot with no permit. The vehicle’s back end encroaches onto a second accessible spot. (Ethan Sawyer/CBC)

Cities vary

Kohr would not say how many delinquent drivers his company tickets for breaking disability parking rules.

Numbers from Metro Vancouver’s four largest cities show a wide disparity in numbers of tickets handed out in 2018 for offenders on city-controlled lots and on-street parkers.

Vancouver handed out the most tickets — over 1,600. Burnaby issued 138, Richmond issued 107, while Surrey handed out 24. 

A City of Surrey spokesperson explained that’s because bylaw officers only actively patrol four locations in the city for violations, two of which are at city hall. 

Miele says it’s not just the malls — rule-breakers are commonly seen on Richmond’s streets and lots.

Richmond spokesperson Clay Adams said the city doesn’t have the power to enforce disability parking rules in private lots, leaving it up to drivers and lot owners to respect the parking laws.

“It really gets down to individual drivers and how much they want to respect the legality, but also the moral element, of these kind of parking stalls.”

Priorities

Miele wants to see rules for disability parking — on public and private property — better enforced, and a uniform, hefty fine to apply across B.C.

“Make it $400 as a even number,” he said. “Maybe that’ll get people’s attention.”

Most of all, he wants to see a change in attitude from some able-bodied drivers.

Vince Miele is an advocate for people with disabilities. He uses a special wheelchair-lift-equipped van that he can drive on his own. But if the wider accessible parking stalls in a lot are taken up, it’s hard for him to deploy the ramp and get out of the van. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

“I mean, is part of parking closest to the entrance that critical for the guy that has to run in and grab a case of beer or go buy a pack of smokes?” he asked.

“I think they should give … their heads at least one shake. Maybe two or more.”


Source link

This website uses cookies and asks your personal data to enhance your browsing experience.