It has recently come to my attention that there is practically a zero availability of Handicapped Parking available to people in wheelchairs. Our brothers and sisters so afflicted may most often, look or visit, but cannot realistically buy in just about every condo in the city.
The condominiums with titled parking stalls almost always have at least one, and sometimes two extra wide stalls for visitors but may not be used by residents. If you are in a wheel chair you may be out of luck. The regulators at city hall and the building developers may have overlooked your unique requirements in almost all of the condominiums being approved for construction.
I recently had occasion to do some house hunting for just such and individual and it is turning out to be quite a challenge. This fellow does not have the use of his legs and must use a automated ramp to get in and out of his vehicle. What a challenge that is turning out to be. The ramp requires approximately 30” more of parking width. (Don’t quote me on this)
While it is difficult for most to find that perfect condo, imagine what it is like to have to then examine the condo plans to find one with an extra wide stall or two, and wonder if you might be able to switch with the person that owns that title and then having the impossible task of having to negotiate that prior to making an offer. Imagine what it is like to have to view a multitude of condos even before you have any idea of whether there is any chance that the parking might be suitable, and then have to go into the parking level and inspect the stall designated for that unit.
In almost every case, the extra wide titles go with the condominium and this makes your choices very limited, and since parking stall width is not a field that is searchable or even required by the Calgary Real Estate Board. It is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
The problem is exasperated when the sellers who own those scarce extra-wide stalls, may not even be handicapped. It would not be reasonable to expect that those that own them now, may only market their property to those people in wheel chairs. This would limit their prospects, and , there would be no way to enforce this or even be able to determine this.
I have heard, that it would not be fair to the other owners if the condo board started delegating their service stalls, visitor stalls or extra-wide handicapped stalls which may be available on the common property for the exclusive use of a person in a wheelchair because the other owners had to pay for theirs. To that I say this. Try and live for a month without the use of your legs and see if your sense of justice takes a turn for the better.
There is a solution
1) All new condo plans being considered should have provisions for a pool of assignable and transferable handicapped parking stalls available for the exclusive and permanent use by those with a genuine need, possibly in addition to their regular stall if they have purchased one for purposes of resale. (Even if it is on a rental basis) Priority should be given to those residents in wheelchairs, so for those that are not, this exclusive use authorization could be reasonably withdrawn.
(Some, but not all, can afford to pay the cost to the builder for this right (Utilizing aisle stalls for this purpose will help keep the cost down but may add a danger factor for those using these stalls).
2) Condo Management Companies and Board Members might need to become more pro-active in understanding about the needs of these people who already have challenges far greater than anyone can imagine.
3) The Calgary Real Estate board might consider making the measuring of all parking stall widths mandatory information when loading new listings.
With a population that is quickly aging, this is going to become more and more of an issue.