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Edmonton halts EPark enforcement changes to accessible placard holders

WATCH ABOVE: The City of Edmonton is backing down on a controversial decision to start charging people with accessibility placards to park on downtown streets. Sarah Kraus has the details.

The city is going back to the drawing board again — and won’t be enforcing changes to its EPark system impacting accessible parking placard holders.

“The suggestion that we were going to start issuing fines for tickets in the middle of July is not happening anymore until, at a minimum, we figure out how many more stalls we need, actually put stalls in place, get that taken care of using the feedback from the Accessibility Advisory Committee, which they provided in the very first place,” Councillor Andrew Knack said.

On Tuesday, city officials apologized for the confusion.

READ MORE: City apologizes for ‘inaccurate’ notices on cars with parking accessibility placards

During a meeting at city hall, they admitted the city didn’t engage the community enough to understand how changes to the parking system would impact those with disabled parking permits.

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“I appreciate you’ve said this is sort of a learning moment going forward for how we do engagement,” Knack told city staff. “I hope that is the case.”

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Knack, who is part of the Accessibility Committee, said the immediate feedback from the community to the initial changes was nearly entirely negative. He wondered why the city even went ahead with the enforcement changes in the first place given that opposition.

“This isn’t the first time even in the last year that we’ve had some challenges where we’re… maybe not fully listening to some of our advisory committees, particularly the Accessibility Advisory Committee.”

READ MORE: Edmonton officer ticketed for double-parking police vehicle in handicap stall

For years now, anyone with mobility issues and a parking placard could use on-street spaces for free for up to two hours.

In May, an information pamphlet left on some vehicles displaying placards said the free parking was going away because of the city’s move to automated parking enforcement with licence plate cameras, effective May 15. The city said those notices were sent out prematurely.

The city is moving to a camera system to confirm if drivers have paid. Since the technology cannot read the placards, the courtesy parking was supposed to end on July 15.

READ MORE: ‘Lazy is not a disability’: City of Edmonton reminds drivers accessible stalls are for those with disabilities

On Tuesday, councillors decided to put all changes on hold. There is no definitive date chosen for implementation.

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The city is looking at adding more accessible parking spots and how to make enforcement cameras recognize vehicles of accessible parking placard holders.

“We’re going to work towards getting the on-street piece in place in terms of the additional stalls,” deputy city manager for operations, Gord Cebryk, said. “We’ll determine where we’re at with some of the other pieces around how we can either register plates or have new technologies that will support the current practice.”

City administration will bring a report to the Community and Public Services Committee to provide an update on the creation of new accessible stalls and technology options in September.

In the meantime, free courtesy parking of up to two hours in EPark zones will continue for placard holders.

“I’m looking forward to getting far more stalls in place across the city,” Knack said.

Watch below: EPark notice on disability parking cardholder cars

EPark notice on disability parking cardholder cars
EPark notice on disability parking cardholder cars