O'Keefe concerned about misuse of blue parking zones

The mayor of St. John's brought his concern about people who are misusing blue zone parking permits in the city to Monday's city council meeting.
St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe brought his concerns about the misuse of blue zone parking permits to Tuesday's city council meeting, reports Mark Quinn. 2:07

The mayor of St. John's brought his concern about people who continue to misuse blue zone parking permits in the city to Monday's city council meeting.

Dennis O’Keefe said that he witnessed two men abusing a blue zone area right in front of city hall.

St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe says that people misusing blue parking permits that are not issued to them is causing unfairness to creep into the system. (CBC)

"These two healthy individuals got out, walked over, attended the hockey game, and I was told a little later by the commissioner that shortly, a few minutes later somebody did pull up — an individual who was disabled and using crutches —and had to move on because the blue zones were occupied," O'Keefe said.

He said that the vehicle had a blue permit in the window, but he did not think that it was issued to either of the individuals he saw using the spot.

"These disability permits are issued to the person with a disability," said O'Keefe.

"When other people use that permit, that's when unfairness creeps into the system," he said.

Last year, the fine for illegally parking in a blue zone was raised from $75 to $400.

Falling back into old habits

While abuses appear to be down, Michelle Murdoch with the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities Newfoundland and Labrador, said that people seem to be misusing permits again this winter.

"The blue zones cleared out a lot and you could find spots when you needed them, but now since the winter has started back again, you can see that they're always full almost everywhere you go," Murdoch said. "It just raises the question, are they being used as they should be used?"

O'Keefe is calling on people to think twice about what they are doing.

"Just stop and think what you're doing for a minute, and I think when that happens, people will back away from using it."

O'Keefe said that people appear to be getting the message, but if that changes, the city may have to consider raising the fine for parking illegally in a blue zone again — up to $800.