By Craig Campbell Reporter
Fri., Oct. 8, 2021timer3 min. read
Susan Creer, of Accessible Hamilton, says the City of Hamilton’s on-street and parking lot patio program takes away needed parking spaces, limited access for the disabled.
Susan Creer, a west Hamilton resident with mobility challenges and a longtime advocate for the disabled, hopes the City of Hamilton will stop its five-year-old on-street patio program in parking lots and street parking spaces across the city.
In a presentation to a special meeting of the city’s Advisory Committee for Persons With Disabilities meeting Sept. 24, Creer said the patios take away parking spaces that provide important access for the disabled.
“I have said it from the beginning,” Creer told the committee. “The porch patio program allows restaurants to make money off the backs of the disabled by taking away needed metered parking spaces and City parking lots.”
Residents with provincial accessible parking permits can park free of charge in any municipal parking spot, or in any municipal parking lot, for up to three hours – except during rush hour, not just in specifically designed accessible parking spaces.
Creer said accessible parking permit holders can not walk long distances, and need parking spaces as close as possible to their destinations – often in the BIA areas where the street and parking lot patios are permitted.
“The city seems to be doing what the restaurants want – not what we need,” Creer said. “Their concern seems to be helping restaurants.”
She noted patios began encroaching into Westdale parking spaces long before the COVID-19 pandemic, so the project was not a response to struggling restaurants.
Approximately half the available parking spaces in two Westdale village lots have been lost to patios – significantly limiting parking options for anyone with mobility challenges.
Among the areas she noted as negatively impacted by loss of parking to patios is Upper James Street, Westdale Village and Locke Street in the west end, James Street and King William Street downtown. She said the loss of parking prevents her and others from supporting local businesses in those areas.
Creer told the committee if a restaurant has the space for a patio on its property, it should be allowed to have one – but shouldn’t encroach into municipal parking spaces.
“I hope I can convince the (committee) members to press for the patios to be discontinued. I also hope to convince the (committee) to try to help me convince city staff, councillors and others that porch patios victimize the disabled by taking away metered parking spaces. Someone with a permit who is blocked from accessing a service such as a pharmacy or clinic may be within their rights to make a human rights complaint.”
City spokesperson Michelle Shantz said staff review the on-street patio and outdoor dining district programs each year to see if any changes or updates can be implemented based on feedback from all city committees, including the Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities.
“Staff will be taking all feedback from 2021 into 2022 preparation meetings, which will take place early next year,” Shantz said.
City of Hamilton business development officer Julia Davis also gave a power point presentation at the special meeting.
Davis’ slides state the on-street patio program was approved for BIA areas in June 2016, for temporary patios within municipally owned parking spaces between May 1 and October 31. An outdoor dining district program was implemented in 2020 to permit extensions of existing patios to support businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Creer formed the organization Accessible Hamilton more than two years ago with the goal of overcoming ongoing physical and attitudinal barriers to the disabled that she has seen during her volunteer efforts and personal experiences.