Disabled parking system needs complete overhaul: councillor

A Toronto city councillor is calling for Ontario to scrap its disabled parking permit system and for the city to start charging those parking on streets in an effort to purge the sytem of abuse.

A Toronto councillor says the city and the province need to take strong action if the disabled parking system is to be purged of abuse.

Coun. Howard Moscoe says Ontario should completely rethink its disabled parking permit system and the city should stop allowing drivers with those permits to park on the streets for free.

"I believe passionately in handicap parking, but the system has gotten to the point where it's become so abused it needs to be rethought," said Moscoe, who represents Ward 15 Eglinton-Lawrence.

Moscoe said the province should follow in the footsteps of Toronto's disabled transit system, Wheel-Trans, which was revamped in 1995.

All permits for that service were cancelled, then reissued using new criteria.

A doctor's note is no longer sufficient, and applicants are now required to appear before a panel that includes a disabled person and a physiotherapist who decide whether they qualify for the service.

Ontario is aware of widespread problems, Moscoe argues, but lacks the political will to replace the system.

About 500,000 Ontarians hold disabled parking permits.

Charge disabled for parking on streets

The councillor is also asking the city to do its part by eliminating free parking on city streets for permit holders who can afford to drive a car.

Permit holders currently pay for parking in lots, but not on streets.

Moscoe says the reason disabled parking permit holders were exempt from on-street parking fees in the past was because meters were only good for one hour and it would be too difficult for them to return every hour to feed the meter.

He says it was not because of income concerns.

City meters have been replaced with two-hour "Pay and Display" machines and Moscoe says people with disabilities no longer need that provision.

Instead, he suggests permit holders pay for street parking, but be granted some leniency if they don't return before the meter runs out.