Further to: Parking permits

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 44, No. 10, December 2002, Page 527 Letters

Last year, the BCMJ published an opinion piece by P. Goble[1] that made the unfounded accusation that physicians were responsible for a proliferation of disabled parking permits. The BCMJ published my reasoned response[2] to this, but I was not aware until recently that the Journal printed another letter by D. Paterson of the Surrey Access for All Committee[3] which was equally accusatory and unfair to physicians. Neither author provided any evidence that physicians are inappropriately signing these forms. Instead, they relied on hearsay and misinterpretation of municipal survey results to imply that BC doctors were negligent.

I wasn’t planning to write again, but then I saw the new SPARC form which adds another dimension to this controversy. The old form required the doctor to give a diagnosis and certify that the patient was unable to walk 100 metres. The new form requires the doctor to certify that the “mobility impairment . . . poses a risk to their health by walking 100 metres”[4] (my italics).

This is a significant change in policy that is not reflected in the information supplied to doctors or prospective applicants on the SPARC-BC web site: “Based on a medical doctor’s recommendation, anyone with a permanent or temporary mobility impairment is eligible for a permit. People who need extra wide parking spaces in order to get in and out of their vehicle, or who cannot walk more than 100 metres, or who are legally blind are also eligible for a permit.”[4]

How does traveling a little further in a wheelchair, or hobbling 100 metres with crutches or a walker create a risk to someone’s health? One could argue that the exercise is good for them. In my experience, there are very few people who would qualify under a “risk to health” category.

Perhaps the SPARC program needs to re-evaluate what their mission and objectives are. I would assert that disabled parking is there for the convenience of a genuinely disabled person, not just because of a risk to health. I think our society accepts and supports this but the new SPARC form does not.

Rather than blaming others and creating even more barriers for the disabled, I suggest that SPARC and other advocates consult with physicians to find out how the system can be improved.

—Eugene R. Leduc, MD

With this letter we end the discussion on this subject, and introduce a new editorial policy: we do not print letters that refer to items that first appeared in print more than 6 months from the receipt of the letter.–ED.


1. Goble P. Limit disabled parking permits [correspondence]. BC Med J 2001;43(1):33. 
2. Leduc E. Re: Limit disabled parking permits [correspondence]. BC Med J 2001;43(4):195. Full Text
3. Paterson P. Re: Limit disabled parking permits [correspondence]. BC Med J 2002;44(4):172. Full Text
4. Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia.  http://www.sparc.bc.ca/parkingpermit/permit_faq.html (no date; retrieved 30 October 2002).


Eugene Leduc, MD. Further to: Parking permits. BCMJ, Vol. 44, No. 10, December, 2002, Page(s) 527 - Letters.

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