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Sault cracking down on people who misuse accessible parking spots

For the next several months, the City of Sault Ste. Marie will be cracking down on people who improperly use accessible parking spaces. (Cory Nordstrom/CTV News) For the next several months, the City of Sault Ste. Marie will be cracking down on people who improperly use accessible parking spaces. (Cory Nordstrom/CTV News)
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For the next several months, the City of Sault Ste. Marie will be cracking down on people who improperly use accessible parking spaces.

Officials said spots set aside for people with mobility issues are too often being taken by people without a permit.

“It is enormously frustrating,” said Diane Morrell, the city’s accessibility coordinator, who uses a wheelchair herself.

“It is probably the most common complaint from an accessibility point of view, and it's been going on at least for 20 years that I've been involved with the accessibility committee for the city.”

The cross-hatched yellow lines between accessible parking spaces are called ‘access aisles,’ and Morrell said they are regularly taken up by those without an accessible parking permit.

She said the parking spaces and accessible aisles are not to be used as drop on, or drop off locations for people, or goods, or used as a waiting zone.

Diane Morrell, the city’s accessibility coordinator who uses a wheelchair herself, said the issue is incredibly frustrating and one of the most common complaints she hears. (Cory Nordstrom/CTV News)

During a regular day, the public is generally good for respecting the parking spaces Morrell said, but it’s a different story in busy locations.

“When there's an event or some kind of tournament or Christmas or long weekend holidays, those spots are at a premium and people with disabilities aren't able to use the sites and they're not able to go shopping the same as everybody else,” she said.

Either go home or take risks

Often, Morrell said she and other disabled people choose to not attend an event if the accessible parking spaces are full.

Those that stay, usually need to park at the back of the parking lot, and take the risk of crossing a busy parking lot.

“They are not visible to drivers backing out of their parking spot,” she said.

“So there's quite a safety risk there.”

For the next several months, enforcement will be enhanced on accessible parking spots, with the hopes of getting the message to the public that the spaces are solely for those who need them.

“We really don't want anybody to get tickets. However, we need behaviour to change,” said Morrell.

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