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Editorial: Don’t you dare park in that accessible spot, Squamish

'Empathy is one of the things that helped humans survive and evolve as a species. Let’s not lose it now.'
If you have a permit, what has your experience been? Let us know with a letter to the editor: [email protected].

Do we have an empathy deficit in Squamish?

This term has been bandied about over the last few years.

Scientific American explains its meaning as “people are often so preoccupied with their own struggles that they aren’t as attuned to other people’s problems as they otherwise might be.”

Less polite writers might say some locals have their heads so far up their own derrières that they can’t see outside themselves.

Either way, there is evidence that empathy is alive and well in town; just look at how folks donate to Community Christmas Care or Battle of the Businesses.

We rock!

But in more day-to-day behind-the-scenes ways, too often, we struggle.

For example, folks have reached out to complain about disabled parking stalls being used by able-bodied folks.

This is especially a problem out front of the post office, apparently.  Those with mobility challenges who need those spots — there are about 219 people with accessible parking permits in town — need those spots.

It is the height of arrogance and selfishness for someone who is not disabled — does not have a permit — to park their vehicle in one of these spots.

According to DriveSmartBC, “Vehicles that do not display a valid permit must not stop, stand or park in a handicap parking space. ‘Just for a minute is not a justification,'” it reads.

“Leaving sufficient space next to a vehicle displaying the permit is important as well. The striped area beside the space indicates room needed to deploy a wheelchair ramp needed to enter or exit the vehicle.”

The District of Squamish encourages folks to call if they see these violations.

If a Social Planning and Research Council of B.C. (SPARC) permit is not displayed, people may call the District’s Bylaw Department at 604.815.5067 to report a complaint. The RCMP (non-emergency line: 604.892.6100) may also attend if they are available to do so.

According to the District, two bylaw tickets were issued in 2021.

So far, nine tickets have been issued to date in 2022.

“SPARC permits are issued only to those who require access to buildings and services in our community, and we hope that all of our citizens are mindful of the needs of others before pulling into an accessible spot that may not be needed. If misuse of an accessible spot is noted on an ongoing basis, we encourage you to note the dates, times, location and details and contact the Bylaw Department for follow-up,” said District spokesperson Rachel Boguski.

Ultimately though, it comes down to our ability to have empathy for others, even when it causes us a bit of pain — such as walking further from another spot — and even when we likely won’t get caught.

Empathy is one of the things that helped humans survive and evolve as a species. Let’s not lose it now.

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