Funding seekers
Disabled parking program needs government help

Glen Vienneau
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Apr 28/00) - The disabled parking program is at risk of being jeopardized if government help isn't on the way soon.

"(We're) hoping the government will see the need for it," said Aggie Brockman, executive director of the NWT Council for Disabled Persons, which runs the program.

The program is responsible for issuing placards that allow those with mobility impairments to park in handicap zones. Yellowknife has 16 such designated handicap zones on the streets.

"The whole purpose of the designated parking spot is to make it possible for people with certain kind of disabilities to participate in the community," added Brockman.

So far, the disabled parking program has survived without government assistance through fund-raisers such as bingos, explained Brockman.

However, competing fund-raising interest in the community has made it difficult to acquire the needed funds to operate the program, which runs the council about $20,000 annually.

If the council is forced to drop its disabled parking program, it will mean some 225 people in Yellowknife and another 160 throughout the NWT will be affected.

Also, the council is not interested in pursuing the option of charging fees for placard holders, said Brockman. She explained that it is not the council's interest to ask cardholders with limited income to help finance the program. It would also not be financially feasible to collect from a low number of people from such a small population, she added.

Brockman notes the danger of losing the program is especially serious outside Yellowknife where the number of users is on the rise.

Those numbers have increased by 50 per cent in the past two years.

The increase in users, Brockman notes, is due to the aging population and an increase in drivers.

So far, the council has applied for funding with two government agencies (Brockman wouldn't say who), who have turned them down.

Directors at the council are continuing their efforts to lobby for funding. As far as the city of Yellowknife is concerned, the council is not seeking its support since the program is a territorial one, she added.