Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Handicap parking violators in sights

With increasing reports of motorists parking in handicap spaces in Fort Frances, the town’s bylaw department is stepping up enforcement.
“We’re receiving more complaints from the people that have disabilities and have the handicap parking permits,” noted town bylaw officer Patrick Briere.

“They’re finding it hard to be able to use the handicap parking spaces that we do have available down Scott Street, and various areas around town, because people that don’t have the parking permits are the ones pulling in and running into the banks or whatever they’re doing.
“We are patrolling more and more to try to catch them,” Briere said.
Those who break the law are subject to fines.
“It’s a $300 fine if you’re caught in a handicap zone without a handicap permit visible,” warned Briere.
“Even if you do have a handicap permit [but] it’s not flipped down on your visor or on your dashboard, visible to us, we will issue a ticket to them.
“If they come in and show us their sticker, then we cancel the ticket,” he explained.
“But if you don’t have a handicap permit, it’s a $300 fine.”
A notice from the town stated not only are violators subject to fines, but “they are taking away the right of access for those with mobility issues.”
“In the spirit of co-operation and respect for people who possess handicap validation tags, we ask that you not use these handicap parking spaces,” it added.
Briere said there’s been a higher volume of complaints in recent weeks, but added the trend of motorists without handicap validation tags using handicap parking spots has been on the rise for a while.
“It picked up in the fall a bit and we have been issuing tickets,” he remarked.
“[But] with the complaints coming in from the actual people with the disabilities, we figured we’d try to get a head start and raise public awareness.”
With the Christmas season upon us, the downtown area is a “madhouse” with regards to parking, conceded Briere.
But he clarified that leaving a vehicle idling in a handicap spot while the driver runs into a store or a bank is the same as parking. And if you don’t have a permit, you will be fined.
“[You] can’t be there at all,” he stressed.
Another popular area for motorists to park in handicap spots is at the Memorial Sports Centre.
Briere noted all handicap spaces are painted blue and the curb is painted yellow.
And while this may be hard to see sometimes in winter, each handicap spot also is marked with a sign.

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