The Wheelie Peeps, disability advocates who were featured in the docuseries PUSH, hosted a peaceful protest in Edmonton on Tuesday to bring awareness and call for municipal authorities to do more when it comes to enforcing who is allowed to park in accessible parking spots.
“We believe that imposing fines of $500 on these perpetrators is a necessary step towards establishing respect for the law and ensuring that accessible stalls are available for those who genuinely require them,” said Bean Gill, a prominent disability advocate supporting the protest and a member of Wheels of Change.
The Wheelie Peeps said they are using their platforms and their loud voices to bring attention to the issues that affect individuals with disabilities’ daily lives.
“We honestly catch people illegally parked every single day, and it’s so frustrating because we need these very limited spots. And it’s Uber, it’s Skip the Dishes, it’s Amazon, with people saying, ‘I’ll just (be) a minute.’ It doesn’t matter what your excuse is — that spot is there for a reason,” said Gill.
Wheels of Change and many other wheelchair users attended the protest.
“For individuals with mobility needs, this is a daily struggle that cannot be allowed to perpetuate any longer. We demand swift action from municipal authorities, law enforcement agencies, and other concerned stakeholders to address this issue comprehensively and proactively,” Gill said.
Tuesday morning’s protest lasted several hours and was held at a parking lot on the southwest corner of the intersection of 99th Avenue and 109th Street.
When Gill was asked why organizers chose that specific parking lot, she explained it was to cause an inconvenience.
“We kind of wanted it to be a nuisance — we’re on a busy street where there’s a lot of people trying to get to work. And they have said, ‘This is a nuisance and you’re not being peaceful. I’m late for work.’ We’re always late too, because we face this problem all the time,” said Gill.
She explained that if people want to be an ally to the community of individuals with disabilities, then they need to be willing to learn and grow.
“Don’t use our bathroom stalls and don’t use our parking stalls. Just become aware. Once the people actually start thinking about it, they will stop doing it (and) become an ally to somebody with a disability. Everyone’s talking about diversity, equity, inclusion, so let’s act it. And this is how you can actually be an ally to people with disabilities.”
“We use our collective strength to drive change and put an end to this continuous violation of accessible parking spaces,” Wheels of Change said in a press release.
A protest organizer speaking at the event said advocates are trying to create an app that lets people report illegal parking in accessible spots. They said their goal is to get the City of Edmonton to put all the money from fines for illegal parking back into disability inclusion and accessibility. The speaker also added that they would like the city to reassess the criteria for those who can get accessible parking permits.
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