After getting a $150 ticket for dropping her injured partner off at a downtown office, a Toronto woman says the city's war on rush hour traffic has gone too far.
Melissa Legge said her partner recently injured herself requiring a cast and crutches. So on Wednesday morning, Legge drove her to work at King and York Streets, opting to park near a ramp.
That's when a police car pulled up behind them, lights flashing. Legge said she pleaded with the officer, but to no avail.
'Anybody could be in that situation where they have a temporary disability and need a little extra time, a little extra help and a little extra understanding - Ing Wong-Ward, associate director of the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto
"Listen, I'm so sorry … we were stopped because of the ramp — this is the only way in," Legge recalls saying.
"He sort of rolled his eyes and said she wasn't getting out of the car fast enough."
New "zero tolerance" parking rules began in January, with police trying to keep key routes clear of cars during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Mayor John Tory has been a major proponent of the plan.
Brian Moniz of Toronto police said in a statement that officers can write tickets for any "halting of a vehicle, even momentarily, whether occupied or not."
The only exceptions, police said, are for vehicles that have a valid accessible permit displayed and are "actively engaged" in getting people in or out of the vehicle.
Legge's partner doesn't have a permit.
Legge said she's "pretty upset" with what she feels is a lack of understanding on the part of the police.
"If someone has a mobility concern, I don't know how else they're meant to access this building," she said.
'A little extra help'
Ing Wong-Ward, the associate director of the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto, said she believes the entire incident is "unfortunate."
She said temporarily disabled people shouldn't need to apply for a permit just to make it easy to get around the city.
"The truth is anybody could be in that situation where they have a temporary disability and need a little extra time, a little extra help and a little extra understanding," Wong-Ward, who is also a former CBC Radio producer, said.
"This feels like another barrier that didn't need to be there."
For her part, Legge noted the officer told her she could fight the ticket. When asked if she'll continue dropping her partner off and accepting the risk of another hefty ticket, she replied: "I guess I have to be."