When Jeremy Dugay and his wife left their car parked in an accessible parking spot at a Charlottetown business Saturday, they returned to find someone had left a flyer indicating the spot they had parked in was reserved for people with a disability.

Also handwritten on the flyer were the words: "You must be blind."

Dugay said he was shocked.

"They put it under our wiper blade and people were staring at us," he said.

"Both myself and my wife had growing frustration with the ignorance from a stranger who thinks we're abusing a placard."

Dugay's wife does not use a wheelchair, but her illness prevents her from walking any distance.

'Invisible disability is a real challenge'

Their car did have a legally obtained accessible parking placard on the rear-view mirror.

"It took only a few words to turn her life upside down," Dugay said. He added the incident has hurt his wife's confidence about going out again.

Marcia Carroll

Marcia Carroll, executive director of the PEI Council of People with Disabilities said the flyer was used years ago as part of public awareness campaign but never contained threatening or derogatory language. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Marcia Carroll, executive director with the PEI Council of People with Disabilities, said she hears similar stories all the time.

"People think that the designated parking spots are for people in wheelchairs, that's not the case."

"The statute clearly states that if you can't walk 75 metres without causing harm, then you are eligible for a designated parking permit that is issued by a doctor. We administer the program, but it's issued by a doctor. Invisible disability is a real challenge," said Carroll.

"There's all kinds of people with COPD, heart conditions, arthritis that may be able to get out their vehicle and not look like they have a disability, and they in fact do, and in fact, have every right to be using the designated spot."

Carroll said the flyer, which references the council, was used as part of a public awareness campaign many years ago, if a car was parked in designated spot and did not have a permit. The council has not used it in years. 

'Public shaming someone who indeed has a disability'

Parking Pass

The original flyer was altered to add a handwritten line and a sentence about sending license plate photos to police.

She said this flyer was altered from the original — adding the line about sending license plate photos to police and the hand written accusation.

Dugay posted a picture of the flyer to social media.

"I'm glad to see there's people standing up to people misusing disabled parking spots but they're doing it in the wrong way and what effect it can have wrongly accusing or public shaming someone who indeed has a disability just because they can't see it."

City police advise the public not to put any material on vehicles.

'Potential to lead to a confrontation'

Gary McGuigan

Deputy police chief Gary McGuigan said if someone sees somebody parked illegally to contact the authorities. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"Our advice to whoever is putting these flyers on windows, although they appear passionate about what they're doing, it has the potential to lead to a confrontation," said Deputy Police Chief Gary McGuigan.

"We have Commissionaires in the downtown area, we have police in the downtown area, and if somebody sees somebody that's parked illegally, in a handicapped or disabled zone, our suggestion to them is to contact the authorities and let them deal with the situation and avoid any potential conflict."

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