Claire looks like any other person you walk past on the street. She’s lived in Edmonton most of her life and has raised her family in the city too. What’s different about Claire is that she’s had an accessibility permit for the past 15 years, but has no visible disability.
“I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease 32 years ago,” says Claire, whose name has been changed to respect her privacy. “The aftermath with that is I have bad osteoporosis, arthritis and my bowels are severely affected. If I ever slipped on ice, I could easily rupture my bowels which would lead to another surgery and a colostomy bag.” Since her diagnosis, Claire has had eight surgeries.
“When my children were young, they knew the drill. Anywhere we would go, like the mall, they would look for the nearest washroom,” she says. “With Crohn’s, when you have to go to the washroom, you should already have been looking for a bathroom because with short bowels I need to park quickly and go.”
It can be hard to forget that all kinds of accessibility needs exist and not all are always visible, such as Claire’s Crohn’s Disease. With winter’s arrival, awareness of accessible parking stalls is important. It can be easy to mistakenly park in an accessibility stall with snow coverage and when in a hurry to make it inside from the cold.
“I use my parking placard the most in the winter, especially at places where I need to run errands, because icy, snowy or wet ground can mean a fall for me and a hospital visit,” Claire says. “I really need to be close to an entrance.”
Did you know?
Accessible parking placards are given to citizens who are unable to walk unassisted for more than 50 metres. That’s only 65 steps!
Drivers who park in marked parking stalls without a placard will receive a $250 fine, in addition to covering the cost of towing and impound that starts at $120 plus $80 a day in storage fees.
It’s illegal to park in a designated accessible parking stall if your placard is expired.
If you see a vehicle parked in an accessible stall without a parking placard, a valid placard, or a fake placard, call 311 to report the incident. Have the make, model and licence plate of the vehicle as well as the address location the vehicle is parked.
The City of Edmonton has a “no tolerance” policy for vehicles illegally parked in accessible stalls. This means that even if part of a tire or front of a vehicle hangs over into a marked stall it will be ticketed.
This holiday season as public places are extra busy, be aware, show you care, don’t park in an accessibility stall. A safe, accessible, more livable Edmonton for everyone starts with you.