Access to Accessible Parking in Ontario
The availability of accessible parking is a long-standing issue impacting many people with disabilities across Ontario. The Accessible Parking Permit Program (APP) was initiated in 1990, and its current procedures are outdated as they offer little available access to those living with some form of physical challenge. Effective and efficient solutions are needed to ensure a streamlined, consistent parking permit system throughout Ontario. A 2017 document issued by the Minister of Government &Consumer Services states that there are over 729,000 APP’s in circulation in Ontario. The program is presently administered by Service Ontario, and Service Ontario is responsible for the policy that governs the program, as well as issuing the permits. While the program is administered by Service Ontario, municipalities are responsible for determining the rights and APP holder may have in their jurisdiction. This makes it confusing for the permit holder/user when travelling from city to city to understand which laws apply to that jurisdiction. Law enforcement agencies in each municipality are responsible for applying fines and enforcing the municipal rules of APP use.
Issues to be Addressed
- Ontario needs a standard practice across all municipalities on the use, equality and procedures of parking permits for people with disabilities.
- End inappropriate distribution and use of parking permits.
- Ontario needs a plan to ensure parking permits are available to those who truly need them, particularly in response to demographic trends such as the ageing population.
Suggested Changes Include
- Determine urban and rural differences.
- Develop a standard of practice across all municipalities where every municipality is consistent with accessible parking holder experience.
- Modernize program using digital technology where relevant to improve user experience.
- Continuous Enforcement of both digital and on the ground regulations.
- Improved data management of the users of the system to prevent permits that have expired to be continuously used in an inappropriate manner.
- Link the parking permit with an alternative form of identification that will immediately cancel the issued permit when the permit holder is deceased.
- Have the policies and procedures of the permit governed consistently where appropriate from municipality to municipality.
- Offer more designated spaces.
The APP program is a vital component for those living with a disability to function when travelling throughout our Ontario cities. Furthermore, the space offered in these designated spots is an integral part of the program. When using a wheelchair, it is imperative that the size of each parking space be sufficient to accommodate the equipment. While those walking with an impairment may need a space close to the facility being visited, a wheelchair’s only solution are the few spots designed for them. Maintaining one’s independence is a goal for many. For those living with a disability, this independence can make a huge difference in their confidence and self-esteem. That freedom is found by thousands of individuals who make use of the APP program. It is a vital program in need of a facelift to better serve the individuals it was initially designed to provide for.
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