Under a scorching sun in a Scarborough parking lot, parking enforcement officer Mike Murphy is moving car-to-car in the row closest to the mall entrance, working to ensure the accessible spots are occupied by the people who need them most.
“This one is expired, from September 2022,” he says, pointing to a permit on the dash of a Buick.
On another car: “Nope, no permit.”
A bright blue wheelchair logo is painted on the pavement and the “by permit only” sign is clear. Murphy pulls out his ticket printer, logs the licence plate, and tucks a $450 fine under the wiper.
It’s part of his hunt for drivers trying to scam the system—some who are misusing the accessible permits of a friend or family member, others who have illegal photocopies or even fakes.
“People will make scam copies of them and sell them for $300-500 a piece,” Murphy said. “Because people who park in the city, to them it’s worth it.”
In Toronto the permits are worth their weight in gold to the people who medically require them. A valid permit exempts the holder, or the person driving them, from many signed prohibited parking areas, on-street permit parking areas, and signed and unsigned parking limits.
“A lot of people figure, I can photocopy it, throw it on my dash, and I’ll be fine,” Murphy said. But if caught, the fines can range up to $5,000.
Toronto officers seized 509 accessible parking permits for investigation of misuse last year, issuing 59 cautions and laying 438 Highway Traffic Act charges.
Recently, Murphy said, he’s noticed a spike in construction workers using borrowed permits to park illegally downtown near their work sites.
Food delivery drivers, he added, are often caught parking in accessible spots while running into a mall or restaurant to pick up orders, thinking they will be in and out quickly.
As Murphy was examining the validity of permits on parked cars at the Agincourt mall Wednesday, a young woman pulled up in a Ford Fusion, parked her car in the accessible spot closest to the Burger King, and went inside.
With no document on the dash, Murphy began logging a ticket; she returned to the car and attempted to drive away, confirming she didn’t have a permit.
“Ok, it will be mailed to you and it will cost you more,” Murphy said to her through the open window. She stopped and took the fine.
“A $450 ticket,” he said. “Just for wanting to go into Burger King.”
This article was originally sourced from www.CTVNews.ca