A couple $300 parking tickets nearly killed Orangeville’s ability to enforce its accessible parking laws altogether, but town hall has dodged that bullet in court.

Faced with a judge’s ruling declaring its accessible parking rules “invalid,” the town managed to win an appeal of that decision in court last Friday (Dec. 2).

“It basically meant … we couldn’t enforce accessible parking anymore,” explained town clerk Susan Greatrix. “I think that would be concerning to everyone.”

The issue dates back to Jan. 2 when 75-year-old Mulmur resident Alain Dupuy received a $300 ticket for parking in an accessible parking space at the CIBC’s First Street branch. Along with another citizen ticketed in a separate incident, he challenged the ticket and the two were tried together in court.

“There were legitimate reasons for not paying this heavy $300 fine,” Dupuy said, claiming the paint identifying the space on the ground is faded and the sign doesn’t comply with regulations found in the town’s traffic bylaw.

Under the town’s traffic bylaw, signs marking a designated accessible parking space must be mounted one metre off the ground.

Dupuy argued the bank’s sign is “over two metres” from the ground, plus its face is pointed in the wrong direction, making it more visible from the street than near the accessible parking space.

“Their wheelchair parking (space) is not clearly identified,” Dupuy said. “If I had seen it, I wouldn’t have parked there.”

Now, here is how these two tickets nearly unraveled the town’s accessible parking laws in one fell swoop.

After the fines were challenged in court, Justice of the Peace John Creelman dismissed both cases on July 27. However, Greatrix noted the ruling had more far-reaching implications than a couple of $300 parking tickets.

In his decision, Creelman ruled the town had “no authority” to enforce its accessible parking rules because its traffic bylaw doesn’t specifically list the location of each space in town.

As Creelman explained, that’s the process followed by town council when it relates issues such as speed limits, stop signs and other parking restrictions.

“Here we have a situation where all other forms of parking, save and except for handicap parking, is precisely described in the bylaw as to street name, location on the street and time,” he ruled. “The Orangeville bylaw contains no authority for the location of handicap spots. Both charges before this court are, therefore, dismissed.”

The town’s appeal was heard by Justice of the Peace Bruce Pugsley last week. As Greatrix explained, the factual issues of Dupuy’s case weren’t considered by Pugsley when he upheld the town’s appeal. In total, Dupuy has appeared in court on the same provincial offences charge a total of three times.

“Don’t go after me again. Try to fix the problem some other way,” he said. “As a citizen, I feel like I’ve been treated badly.”

As Greatrix explained, the town’s decision to file an appeal wasn’t about the two $300 tickets as much as it was about defending the town’s bylaw.

“If the decision of the Justice of the Peace remained in place, it may have meant that the town would have to determine the location of each designated accessible parking space throughout the town,” she told The Banner.

“It would also have meant that for each new designated accessible parking space an amendment to the bylaw would be required,” she added. “That would be a tremendous amount of work.”

Although nothing prevents municipal councils from doing that, Pugsley upheld with the town’s argument that the Municipal Act doesn’t require municipalities to expressively state the geographical location of each accessible parking spot.

Pugsley decided to stay the proceedings, meaning Dupuy and the other citizen ticketed won’t pay the $300 fine. However, he noted that decision did not take the evidence raised by both defendants at previous hearings into account.

“They had each offered explanations as to the absence of proper signage,” Pugsley wrote, clarifying his ruling “does not mean that no defence is possible.”

Greatrix says the town is investigating Dupuy’s claims that the accessible parking space he was ticketed for parking in isn’t properly marked. If necessary, she said the sign will be brought into compliance.

“We’re looking into that,” Greatrix said. “The town endeavours to ensure that there is compliance with all signs denoting designated accessible parking spaces.”

Source: Orangeville Banner