Watch where you park it!
Physically disabled people rely on parking stalls

by Cheryl Leschasin
Northern News Services

NNSL (May 23/97) - Bylaw's supervisory constable Larry Weber says it happens all the time. Commissionaire Gerald Lainey and the NWT Council for Disabled Persons agree.

It just happens in places where people think they won't be caught. "We won't catch anybody downtown, it usually happens in private lots," said Lainey.

From one end of the city to the other, people are parking their cars in spaces reserved for people with disabilities.

"Parking in a city disabled parking zone will get you a $100 fine and a tow," said Lainey. The same for private lots, but only if the lot owner reports the vehicle to municipal enforcement in time.

The NWT Council for Disabled Persons administers the parking placard program in the NWT.

A physician's recommendation and approval from the council are required before a person is given a placard.

Even those with a permit must follow established rules. The regulation of the parking placard program clearly states that "reserved parking spaces are intended for temporary use only. Parking should be limited to 30 minutes only."

Ken Wood, a visitor from Seattle, has a mobility impairment and uses a disabled placard. He said that although he wouldn't get as angry as some over people parking in disabled parking zones, he still finds it frustrating.

"It's not so bad for me because I'm not in a wheelchair," said Wood.

However, disabled parking stalls are required by plenty of people other than those in wheelchairs.

Permanent or temporary placards are issued to individuals with mobility impairments -- a limited ability to walk, move from room to room, carry an object for 10 metres or stand for long periods of time.