City makes handicap parking spots easier to find

They say you can’t fight city hall, but Bernadette Grainger beat a $375 parking ticket and now has the satisfaction of seeing the city put prominent pavement markings on the accessible spot where she got her ticket.

The city has been facing complaints about the signage and enforcement of accessible parking spots on city streets. A ticket brings a $375 fine.

Rick Gleed, a commercial realtor with a downtown office, raised the issue last fall when he got a ticket for parking at an accessible spot near Dufferin Avenue and Richmond Street that is marked by a pole-mounted sign that he said was partly obscured by trees.

It was the same spot where Grainger got her ticket. She drove around for hours before her daughter noticed the ticket on the windshield.

“I would never park in a handicapped spot, so I went back and saw that the sign was in the trees. I said, ‘I’m going to fight this,’ ” she said.

Grainger said she was one of eight people who got their fines quashed on June 29 when they attended provincial offences court to fight the tickets for parking in accessible spots.

Shortly after, she noticed the spot where she got the ticket now has a bright blue and yellow pavement marking in addition to the sign.

But city officials insist that was a coincidence and there has been no change in their enforcement of accessible parking.

City parking officials said the posted signs meet the minimum requirement of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act.

But it does fall short of Canadian standards, which recommend large blue and yellow pavement markings and signs of a specific height and size. That standard is used at municipal facilities like community centres and at new commercial developments — but not for street parking.

Last fall Annette Drost, the city’s manager of municipal parking enforcement, said cost was a barrier to installing pavement markings. A city road official said it cost about $2,500 to put pavement markings at each spot, and those markings normally have to be renewed every three years.

But Orest Katolyk, the city chief bylaw enforcement officer, said the city got a good deal on “enhancing” the handicapped spots with pavement markings. He would not specify the price but said it was well below $2,500 per space.

He said the pavement parking program has been planned for some time and he was not aware if a significant number of tickets has been challenged and quashed.

“There’s no relationship between any tickets that may have been withdrawn and the recent street markings.” said Katolyk.

This spring the pavement markings have been painted on a number of accessible spots, including some downtown spaces, Greenway Park and the area around St. Joseph Health Centre.

Gleed said he understands accessible parking violations must be enforced but not marking the spots properly only targets unwitting motorists and deprives handicapped drivers of using the spot. He said the pavement marking will make be better far all concerned.

“It was quite rewarding to protest and see these changes come through,” said Gleed.

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