Quebec woman ordered to pay 27 fines worth $13K for having temporary car shelter

A file photo of a car shelter. Global News

Charlotte Gibson’s battle has finally come to an end.

Last month, a municipal court judge ordered the Dollard-des-Ormeaux resident to pay out the 27 fines totalling $13,050 that have been issued to her, including one to her husband, over the last few years as a result of her temporary car shelter.

Gibson and her husband, Peter Buchanan, have been in a years-long battle with the city over its use of the car shelter, commonly called a “tempo.”

Nearly 10 years ago, Gibson suffered some serious injuries when she slipped on a patch of ice.

Court documents state the incident left her with a 20 per cent disability in one leg and an eight per cent disability in the rest of her body.

Gibson says walking and clearing the snow off her driveway and car was too difficult, and so years ago, her husband installed a temporary car shelter over their driveway and asked the city to exempt her through the winter.

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However, that request was refused.

Car shelters are prohibited in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, as they are in Senneville, Baie d’Urfé, Kirkland, Beaconsfield and Pointe-Claire.

They are permitted in a majority of the boroughs in Montreal, as well as in other municipalities like Dorval and Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.

Over the years, the couple has accumulated more than two dozen tickets, each about $500.

They decided to contest them in court.

In November, at trial, Gibson argued that she should be except from Dollard-des-Ormeaux’s bylaw because of her disability and because she and her husband are foster parents to several at-risk youths.

She testified that they have an agreement with Batshaw Clinical Support Services, which allows them to receive children into their home, but they have to follow several safety standards.

One of which is the obligation to designate a controlled area for any items that may pose a risk to the minors they house, such as any tools, paints, toxic substances, all of which they store under lock and key in their garage.

That is why, Gibson argued, she cannot park her car in her garage and needs the tempo.

In the February decision, Judge Gabriel Boutros wrote that “the facts in evidence show that both Ms. Gibson and Mr. Buchanan knew that they were violating the by-law and decided to violate it anyway.”

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“Until you walk a mile in someone’s shoes – unless you are disabled – people don’t understand,” Gibson said on Thursday. “I don’t have any ill will, I just wish they’d (the city) would try to understand my situation.”

Gibson says she will not appeal the decision. She says she doesn’t have any more money to do so.

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