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Resident says parkade falls short

Handicapped parking spots at plaza called 'Ridiculous'

A New Westminster man believes that the parking provided for persons with disabilities at the Plaza 88 development is woefully inadequate.

Wayne Hamilton said there are too few handicapped parking spots in the development's parkade and the spots that are available are hard to find. After getting a floor plan from the city outlining the location of the spaces reserved for persons with disabilities, Hamilton still had a hard time finding all the spaces.

"It is incredibly ridiculous. I could only see one spot," he said. "I drove all three levels, and I can't see them."

The Plaza's parkade provides 293 parking spaces, including six accessible spaces. Two of the accessible spots are located on each level of the parkade.

Hamilton believes the development should provide more accessible parking spaces, more clearly identify where they are located so they're not so hard to find, and locate them close to the elevators and pay stations. He feels as though the location of the designated spots was done as an afterthought, given that they're not located beside the elevator doors.

The longtime New Westminster resident questions how the six spots will meet the needs of all the people who will be going to the Plaza, especially once the 10-screen theatre opens.

"It's not just for me," he said about voicing his concerns. "It's for the future. They need at least five spots on each floor."

Mike Degelder, president of Degelder Construction, said he told Hamilton he wouldn't be communicating with him through the media. He has offered to meet with Hamilton at the Plaza site to discuss his concerns.

"We are well beyond the requirements of the city or the building code," Degelder told The Record. "What he is saying is he doesn't like the location."

When planning the layout of parking, Degelder said the accessible stalls were placed in areas that could accommodate oversized parking stalls. "We have located them where we think we like them."

A Quayside resident, Hamilton moved his banking from Sixth and Sixth to the Plaza. He said he'd hoped to frequent the development to do his grocery shopping and attend movies.

"It is more convenient for me to go to Sixth and Sixth," he said about Safeway. "It has big wide parking spaces. I don't have to pay either."

Hamilton said it's "mind-boggling" that the parking has been approved by the city, given that the spots are hard to find and not close to the elevators.

"I have been in a wheelchair for 38 years," he said. "I think I know a thing or two about accessibility."

While accessible parking has come "a long way" and is generally "pretty darn good," he thinks there's room for improvement at the Plaza.

Frank Durante, the city's manager of building inspections, said the parkade at the Plaza has met its obligations and passed its inspections.

"Unfortunately there is nothing in the (building) code that says where they should be," he said about accessible parking spaces. "Generally they are placed as close as possible."

Hamilton raved about the accessible parking spaces provided at the Lowes store in Queensborough, where several, wide spaces are located near the front of the store.

"It's a design decision they decided to do it that way," Durante said. "There is nothing that required them to do so."

While Degelder Construction has provided the required number of accessible parking spaces, Durante said he has suggested that the developer put in directional signage on the pillars to help direct motorists to those particular spots.

Hamilton, who visited the Plaza on Monday to do some banking, parked in a designated stall, wheeled a considerable way to go to the parking machine and then wheeled a ways further to get to the elevator.

Ideally, Hamilton would like to see four or five handicapped, wide parking spaces on each level that are located near the elevator so he and others needing to park in accessible spots can enjoy the services being offered at Plaza 88.

"It's a great site," he said. "It is going to be wonderful for the city."

tmcmanus@royalcityrecord.com

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