Melanie Ten Haaft wants the City of Red Deer to do a better job at enforcing the bylaw that covers handicapped parking. (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)

Where’s the handicapped parking enforcement in Red Deer? asks woman

Experiment undertaken to underline concerns

A Red Deer woman says the City of Deer is failing to enforce the bylaw that covers handicapped parking.

Melanie ten Haaft wonders why the city is paying for bylaw officers when they are not enforcing handicapped parking stalls rules.

“It’s just a little frustrating to know that we’re paying for these men and women to do a job, and they’re not doing it.”

Tara Lodewyk, City of Red Deer Director of Planning Services, said, in an email to ten Haaft after a meeting with her and Mayor Tara Veer, that so far this year the city has issued 98 tickets from Jan. 1 to May 8 for parking in a designated stall.

ten Haaft said there could be a lot more tickets written. The infraction is a $175 ticket.

ten Haaft, 41, became disabled nine years ago, and has found over the years, time and time again, that people who don’t need handicapped stalls are parking in them. That includes places like downtown, shopping malls, grocery stores and banks. She believes the experiences of other people who need handicapped parking are similar.

To prove a point, for over 30 days recently she parked in handicapped stalls without using her handicapped placard. Not once did she get a ticket, she said. “Nothing happened.”

“I really wanted to see how long it would take before you would get into trouble for breaking the bylaw.”

She met with Veer and Lodewyk earlier in May to ask why the city is paying for bylaw enforcement if they are not going to uphold the laws.

It is a concern when there are parking violations related to handicapped parking, Veer said.

There is pro-active enforcement downtown, and commissionaires will be briefed to watch for those violations, the mayor said.

There was also concern raised about non-compliance in private lot stalls and that enforcement falls under a different department. ten Haaft was provided contact numbers for that.

Veer said the city is committed to making the community more accessible and is making progress, but hasn’t arrived there completely.

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