Mar 29, 2013 – 4:30 AM
More accessible parking needed in Pickering: committee. PICKERING — Sue Wilkinson is a member of the Pickering Accessibility Advisory Committee and presented a motion requesting council increase the accessible parking requirements in the city. March 27, 2013 Jason Liebregts/ Metroland PICKERING —
One Pickering resident is asking the City to reconsider its accessible parking requirements to keep up with increasing need.
During a council meeting on March 25, Sue Wilkinson, a member of Pickering’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, presented a motion from the committee calling on council to revise the City’s accessible parking requirements from one space in 50, or about 2 per cent, to 15 per cent.
Ms. Wilkinson highlighted two Statistics Canada surveys conducted in 1991 and 2001 that reported the total population of people with disabilities in Ontario at 1,514,380, or 13.5 per cent.
“These surveys were completed some time ago but given our aging population and the prevalence of disabilities increasing with age, I believe we can make judgments based on these statistics today,” Ms. Wilkinson explained. “It appears reasonable that accessible parking requirements need to be increased.”
Ms. Wilkinson stressed that accessible parking isn’t just about proximity to facilities, but also the width and length to allow disabled passengers to load and unload accessible vehicles safely.
She reports consistent difficulty finding available accessible spots, and is often forced to park far from other vehicles in standard spaces to have room to unload.
“I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been able to park in an accessible bay,” she said, noting parking far away means having to traverse parking lots in her motorized scooter, leaving her below the sightline of many drivers.
“It can be a dangerous journey,” she said. “I hope you take this opportunity to become a leader in Durham Region in protecting the needs of people with disabilities.”
Council voted to direct staff to review the requirements, but did have concerns with an increase.
Coun. Kevin Ashe pointed to Whitby and Ajax, which have a one-in-19 requirement, and Oshawa at one in 25, noting that 15 per cent would equal about three spots in 20, or an almost threefold increase compared to neighbouring communities. That type of increase could put businesses with little to no room for additional parking in a difficult position, he said.
“I have no problem supporting a motion to review this but by no means do I think we should be putting private businesses at a disadvantage,” he explained.
Coun. Jennifer O’Connell urged staff to come back with a recommendation for some type of increase and encouraged increased bylaw enforcement to ensure existing spots are used properly, noting she often sees vehicles parked in accessible spots with no visible stickers or permit.
“We don’t have a sufficient amount of spots, and I have no problem with the number being proposed here because I do think there’s a need, but we also need to look at the enforcement factor,” she said.