Amherstburg police launch blitz focusing on accessible parking spots

By Jolene Perron

 

The Amherstburg Police Service launched a blitz Monday morning focusing on accessible parking spaces within the town and the blitz will last all week.

“We were contacted by the accessibility committee through the town hall in regards to an ongoing issue with people parking in handicap spaces without having the permits,” explained Const. Steve Owen.   “The police service did a one-week blitz last year, we focused on making sure we monitored those people using the spaces and issued bylaw tickets to them if they didn’t have the correct pass. This year we are doing the second annual blitz.”

Owen said officers will be out all week, paying close attention and writing tickets. The current fine for parking in an accessible parking space without a permit is $300.

“To me, they’re there for a reason – for the people who need them. For someone who doesn’t need it to be using that spot, (it) just creates an inconvenience for everybody and everyone gets frustrated when they see that,” explained Owen.

Accessibility committee chair Bill Whittall said they are always out and about in the community looking for ways to make things easier for those with disabilities. As he also has a disability, when he sees someone go into a spot without a permit or a sticker, he knows maybe someone else is cruising around needing that space.

 

Amherstburg Police Services Constable Steve Owen (left) stands with accessibility committee member Marie Allen, chair Bill Whittall, and member Angela Kelly inside of an accessible parking space outside of town hall to kick off their weeklong blitz, which began Monday.

Accessibility committee Angela Kelly has a daughter who is in a power wheelchair. She said when she purchased an accessible van, she specifically requested one that would allow her to come out of the back of the vehicle because she has always had issues with people parking too close to the side of her car and she had a difficult time getting her daughter in and out of the van.

Kelly said education is key.

“The other issue is, I think there are people who maybe have accessible parking permits but are maybe unaware of how they should be using them,” explained Kelly. “A lot of times I will notice people have the parking permits in the front of their vehicles but the person who it’s likely assigned to remains within the car. I often have to, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, move to another location because all of the areas are taken. There are also people who use a relative’s permit and run into the store just because it’s close and quick and they’re only going to be a few minutes so now they are taking up that space that someone who physically needs it is unable to use it.”

The goal of this blitz, Owen said, is to make the public aware that this is an issue, not just to issue tickets to those parked illegally in accessible spots. He added that he wants to make sure the public understands those spots are there for a reason.

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