The city of Burlington, Ont., has fired a parking enforcement officer after social media posts showed he parked in an accessible space without a permit — twice on the same day.
Niki Schmidt, 40, tells CBC News she visited Costco on Saturday, like she does every week. The store was packed at 2 p.m., one day before the Super Bowl, and finding a spot for her car was a challenge.
"We had to park way at the back and as we were walking into the store, we saw this City of Burlington parking enforcement vehicle pull into [an accessible] parking spot," she says.
"It was the last remaining [accessible] spot in the parking lot" meant for those with a qualifying health condition.
Schmidt, her husband and their five kids saw the vehicle reverse into the spot before the male officer, who she says wasn't in uniform, exited the car.
"I asked him. 'Sir, are you going to write yourself a ticket?' and he said, 'No, I'm allowed to park here, there's nowhere else to park, leave me alone, I'm doing my job,'" she says.
Schmidt whipped out her phone and started snapping pictures of the white parking enforcement vehicle with the serial number 7023-17 before sharing them on social media.
"How hypocritical is this? I don't know whether he was there on personal business or he was there to write tickets, but either way, those spots are there for people who legitimately need them," she says.
"How can you enforce the laws when you, yourself are in the process of breaking them?"
The officer was an employee for a "few months" and was on duty at the time, according to the city.
Schmidt didn't know it, but it looks like that was not the only time the same parking enforcement vehicle was spotted in an accessibility spot that day.
Parking enforcement car in accessibility spot earlier that day
About two hours earlier on Saturday, another resident tweeted an image of the same vehicle.
Schmidt says the officer insisted he wasn't doing anything wrong — Marianne Meed Ward, the mayor of Burlington disagrees.
"It has been reported multiple times," she says in response to the social media posts.
"There is no excuse for parking in an accessible spot without a sticker. I've alerted staff who are investigating and taking action. I have zero patience for this."
In another reply on social media, the mayor says "further action may result if there was no valid reason for car to be there."
City reviewing past parking tickets, fires employee involved
Vito Talone, the city's director of transportation services, said in a statement Monday morning, the officer involved is "no longer" working for the city.
He also says the city is following up with the contractor to ensure the same situation doesn't repeat itself and adds all parking tickets issued by the officer are being reviewed.
"The actions of the individual in question are completely unacceptable and out of line with the values expected of Burlington city staff. All municipal parking bylaws are to be followed by everyone, with no exceptions."