A group of Islanders held a demonstration Thursday morning in the parking lot of the Atlantic Superstore in Montague, raising awareness about designated parking spots for people with disabilities.
Members of the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities filled non-designated parking spots with mobility aids such as wheelchairs and walkers, illustrating how frustrating it is for people with disabilities to often see designated spots taken up by people who don't need them.
Marcia Carroll, executive director of the council, hopes the demonstration made people think about "how people with disabilities feel every day when they pull up and try to park at a designated parking spot and it's taken up by a person who doesn't need it."
It's something that allows them to navigate their community and get on with their day in a way that able-bodied people take for granted. — Marcia Carroll, P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities
Each mobility aid had a sign attached to it indicating various excuses members of the council have heard from people taking designated parking spots. Some of the signs read "I'll just be a minute" and "The weather is terrible."
Some members of the council also stood in the parking lot holding signs indicating various health conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cancer.
"They're to represent people who have invisible disabilities and don't use mobility aids but still need designated parking spots because those individuals are challenged every day when they use a designated spot," Carroll said.
The demonstration was part of a number of events the council held this week to celebrate National AccessAbility Week. Carroll said the council holds these demonstrations about once a year.
"We saw this type of demonstration being done in Ireland, and then it spread throughout different cities in Europe," said Carroll. "So we thought we'd give it a whirl here and we find it quite effective."
Accommodation, not convenience
Carroll said the council received many positive comments on social media in response to the demonstration.
During the event, Carroll said several people came up to the group and asked what they were doing, giving council members a chance to speak to the public one-on-one about the importance of designated parking spots.
"It's a great visual," said Carroll. "But it's also to talk about the bigger systemic pieces of how physical environment creates handicaps, not the person with the disability."
Carroll said designated parking spots are not a convenience for people with disabilities but a necessary accommodation.
"It's something that allows them to navigate their community and get on with their day in a way that able-bodied people take for granted."
More from CBC P.E.I.