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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Disability spaces should go to those who require them most

Letter writer, who lost a leg in a motorcycle crash in Nanaimo two years ago, expresses frustration
Letter writer, who lost a leg in a motorcycle crash in Nanaimo two years ago, says he is frustrated by the number of people parking in disability spaces who appear to have invalid passes. (News Bulletin file photo)

To the editor,

I’m a disabled person as of 2020 – the guy who got into a motorcycle accident on Hammond Bay Road on Easter Monday. I now am minus one left leg. It was my favourite leg.

As a person with a disability I am constantly frustrated by the overabundance of dozens of disability parking places designed for people just like me – that are always full of people not like me.

Sure, many people have unnoticeable reasons to need a disability parking space, but it is quite obvious that this privilege – or more accurately worded ‘necessity’ – is not an actual necessity for the majority of those who take up the needed parking spots.

After two years of parking in these designated spots I’ve yet to meet another person using a wheelchair. What I have seen is hundreds of people who park, hang their permit, and walk right into the mall or supermarket completely unassisted by any medical device. No cane, no walker, no crutch, and definitely no wheelchair.

The qualifying conditions in the permit application are as follows: the applicant has a disability that affects their mobility and the ability to walk specifically, the applicant cannot walk 100 metres without risk to their health, and/or the applicant requires the use of a mobility aid to travel any distance.

We all know that walking through any of the above stated buildings is to walk a few kilometres over the course or a shopping trip.

RELATED: Nanaimo RCMP looking for witnesses to collision between motorcycle and car

I’ve now taken up the habit of checking the parking permits on people vehicles. You guessed it, lots of expired permits, permits that have been tampered with, new holes punched under a later year’s date, etc. Even after losing my leg, I was only given a permit for one year.

I’d love for the police to park their cruiser at the edge of the parking lot at the big-box store and inspect the permits of every driver parking in a disability stall. Bet they would bust dozens of people in one day. So far, this infraction has no consequence. No one checks, no one writes tickets and those who really need the spaces end up driving around till one opens up.

When I look at the person parked in the disability space next space to me, they can’t even look me in the eye as I get my wheelchair out. In that moment you can see their conscience get awakened to what a ‘real’ disabled person looks like as they walk away, unaided, to shop.

Nathaniel Olson, Nanaimo

The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the Nanaimo News Bulletin.

Letters policy: Letters should be no longer than 250 words and will be edited. Preference is given to letters expressing an opinion on issues of local relevance or responding to items published in the News Bulletin. Include your address (it won’t be published) and a first name or two initials, and a surname. Unsigned letters will not be published.

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