‘I don’t know where we’re going to park’: Toronto police step up enforcement of accessible-permit rules
It was on their way back from a bacon-and-eggs brunch that Michael and Timothy Roman discovered a parking enforcement officer placing a ticket under their windshield wiper: a $50-fine for leaving their car within a precise 30.5 metres from the signalized intersection at King and Sherbourne streets.
“He was very courteous, he was a model officer,” Michael Roman told CTV News Toronto.
But they were taken aback. Timothy Roman suffers from neck and back issues and cannot walk without pain; they’ve used an accessible parking permit to park in that same spot without issues for a decade.
In Toronto, accessible permit holders can park in most places that other drivers can’t, with some exceptions – including in front of hydrants, driveways or in no-standing zones. But the Romans had never heard of the 30.5-metre rule.
“It is becoming more prominent, and we are enforcing it more now,” said Scott Wylie, the supervisor of the Toronto Police Parking Enforcement disabled liaison section, on Friday.
“People who are parked in that area block people from turning right,” said Wylie. “People can’t turn left or go straight through – it’s to keep traffic flowing.”
The rule has been on the books for many years, though most accessible-permit holders were never reprimanded. As downtown traffic worsens, police have been instructed to ensure even permit-holders are parking properly.
“We’re normally very law-abiding citizens, we like to do things by the book,” said Timothy Roman.
But the couple worries the crackdown will lead to more dangerous street-crossings; if they are forced to park midblock and can’t easily walk down to the intersection to cross, they would be more likely to cross illegally.
“If we had to park midblock, I’d rather jaywalk than walk her in pain double the walk,” said Michael Roman.
He estimates that more than three quarters of potential parking spots downtown will be eliminated for people with disabilities if they are no longer able to park within 30.5 metres of signalized intersections
“This is a real problem for disabled people,” Michael told CTV News Toronto.
Wylie said he understands the concerns of accessible-permit holders, but stresses that Toronto offers more parking exemptions to people with disabilities than anywhere in North America.
The Romans though worry they’ll no longer able to go downtown.
“I just don’t know where we’re going to park,” said Michael.