I write this letter as a handicapped person and trust the Minister Arden McLean will be able to listen and learn from my comments.
According to the handicapped logo, a wheelchair is the medium of transportation for a handicapped person. I myself have been handicapped for the past 13 years but I don’t use a wheelchair. I therefore strongly believe that Mr. McLean should have specified in his upcoming proposed bill who were to be the beneficiaries of the spaces provided for the handicapped.
Should he not know it, a person with one arm is handicapped; so too is a person with one eye, or one who is deaf. Are these persons entitled to the places marked for handicapped? The other question is: how many wheelchair handicapped persons have complained to Mr. McLean for not having found vacant their designated spaces at any time when they went shopping? Has Mr. McLean enquired among the merchants to find out the average number of handicapped people do their shopping at their establishment daily? How many handicapped persons, say, from East End come each day to do their shopping at Foster’s, Hurley’s or Kirks? This would be nice to know as once laws are passed, they should be based on facts and a good level of feedback and information.
Has Mr. McLean accounted for the cost of having empty at least six potential shopping spaces in front of Hurley’s Supermarket from 7am to 11pm so that during these long hours some handicapped person might show up? Worse yet, how will these empty spaces inconvenience the many busy shoppers on any Friday evening as they attend to their rush shopping.
What about when we are threatened by an approaching hurricane and hundreds of shoppers are in a mad rush to get their shopping done to go home to their loved ones? What if these spaces are left empty for the possible or eventual visit of some handicapped person? Or consider the supermarket being actually jam packed with shoppers and half a dozen wheelchairs are in the narrow passageways. What a mess that would be.
As a handicapped person myself, I don’t go shopping at such a time but I am sure neither do many of the other handicapped persons on the Island. Yet according to the proposed law, those handicapped parking spaces must be held open and used only by the handicapped.
Has Mr. McLean considered the other fact about hard-working persons getting paid a weekly salary of less than $300 a week, and on a Friday night, because they could not make the bank on time, go to Hurley’s or Fosters Supermarket to cash their cheque? Because of the Friday night rush, they forgot and parked in the ‘reserved handicapped’ spaces. What would happen? They would soon lose their happy feeling of being able to find an open space to park and to cash their cheque, for on returning to their vehicle would find their car was clamped and a fee of $75 was needed to remove the clamp.
I am not against the Planning Department for its requirement to have all business places install reserved spaces for the handicapped. My concern is the severe power of the proposed law with regards to fines over $75 per offence.
Mr. McLean stated that they are concerned about the mistreatment of the handicapped in this country. As far as I remember, we, the handicapped people, have been kindly treated by the community at large; especially the private sector which, through large monetary donations, have made the way possible for our handicapped team to go abroad several times to international events like the Special Olympics. Thank you all!
I do hope that if Mr. McLean answers this letter, that at the same time, he will donate a $5,000 cheque to assist the handicapped team for their next trip abroad to compete for their beloved Islands. Also, to the management of Fosters – save the payment to the security company and donate $500 monthly to the CI National Handicapped Committee.
Name withheld by request