Posted May 2, 2016
The number of cars parking in accessible spots without a permit is on the rise. New numbers from the city of Ottawa show a slight bump in tickets issued in 2015 over 2014.
Bylaw officers issued 2,278 tickets in 2015, up from just over 2,200 in 2014. Hot spots included College Square, the Walmart at Train Yards, and the Nepean Sportsplex. Just a few years ago the number of tickets was in the low 1,000s.
Gisele Bouvier, an activist with Ottawa ACORN, told CTV Ottawa it's unforgiveable for people without a permit to be parking in accessible spots.
"It makes life more difficult," she said. "It's also insulting to them to have able-bodied people taking their spot and sort of pushing them aside."
Accessible spots are built closer to a building's entrance to help people get to where they are going in a safe, and more manageable manner. The spots are also larger, and often grouped together for added safety.
93-year-old John Newell, an Air Force veteran, relies on his accessible parking permit to get around smoothly.
"I have a bad back. I have a bad neck. I have a bad knee that's about one year from giving up," he said.
However, Newell and his wife, Lois, said they often find people without a permit parking in the reserved spots.
"They just dash into the store and hope they don't get caught," said Lois Newell.
The fine for parking in an accessible spot without a permit is $450. Last year's fines resulted in an estimated $1 million dollars in revenue for the city of Ottawa.
Councillor Mark Taylor launched a study around accessible parking permits in 2012 after it was discovered people were creating false permits to evade tickets. He said the study found there are an adequate number of parking spots for the hundreds of thousands of Ottawa residents with permits. Taylor said the study also revealed the vast majority of permits are legitimate.
Taylor attributed the increase in 2015 to two factors: greater enforcement on behalf of bylaw and greater awareness.
"It was a topic of conversation a couple of years ago and I think that spurred people to say when I see something I am going to call bylaw," Taylor said.
As demand for accessible permits grows, Taylor said it might be time for the city to look at ways of expanding accessible parking. According to the city of Ottawa's website, public spaces with more than 20 parking spots are only required to have one accessible spot.
"We realize there is going to be more and more of a call for disabled spaces in the future, so I think there is a call to be looking at expanding the accessible spaces" Taylor said.
Social media, including Facebook pages and specially designed apps, have made it easier for drivers to virtually shame and report others who are parking illegally. Anyone who wants to report a driver can call 3-1-1.
It is unclear how many of the tickets issued last year were fought in court and or paid in full.
So, what were the ticketing hotspots in 2015?
1980 BASELINE RD, 122 tickets
450 TERMINAL AVE, 101 tickets
GLOUCESTER ST, 72 tickets
1235 DONALD ST, 55 tickets
1701 WOODROFFE AVE, 48 tickets
1849 MERIVALE RD, 48 tickets
Source: CTV News