Disabled Bedford high school student wins accessible parking battle
Nicholas LeBlanc told he wasn't allowed to use accessible spots at Charles P. Allen High School
Nicholas LeBlanc has trouble walking, but he's good at standing up for himself.
For a couple of weeks this month, Charles P. Allen School in Bedford refused to allow LeBlanc to park in one of the school's accessible spots, even though the 17-year-old has an accessible parking permit from the province.
"I think they're just being stubborn and need to learn how to pick their fights because I saw a really simple solution to the problem, which is let me park there because I have a permit," said LeBlanc.
LeBlanc has a leg deformity and painful arthritis. He uses a pair of crutches to walk. After Christmas, he started parking in the school's accessible spots, but was quickly told he wasn't allowed.
It was only after CBC made inquiries about the situation that the school had a change of heart.
"They're suddenly willing to negotiate with me," LeBlanc said. "They went from, 'You're not allowed to park there,' to, 'OK, you can park in a different spot, just not that spot specifically.'"
Can't give parking passes to everyone
Halifax Regional School Board spokesman Doug Hadley said school officials were of the view that all students should be treated the same — and that meant no parking for them at Charles P. Allen.
"There are a number of students with mobility issues at the school so they would love to be able to give parking passes to everyone, but they are not in a position to be able to do that," Hadley said.
Hadley said the school has now reconsidered its position on LeBlanc.
"It wasn't sitting well with them either and they would try to do what they could, so they have communicated to him that they will be allowing him to use the spot," Hadley said.
'Policy that's just bogus'
The school had struck an earlier compromise, but there was a catch: LeBlanc had to walk into the building each morning to retrieve a parking pass and then return and place it on his car.
"Because I'm disabled, it could be potentially dangerous for me, like the sidewalks could be potentially icy. Which is something that may or may not happen, depending on the weather," said LeBlanc.
When he eventually refused to retrieve a permit, he was handed a $25 ticket. He has no intention of paying.
While he's now allowed to park without a school permit, he said the broader policy at Charles P. Allen is unfair and should be changed to reflect the needs of students with disabilities. He intends to keep up the battle.
"I have more of a problem with the policy than the administration themselves, but you're being paid to enforce a policy that's just bogus," LeBlanc said.