December 14, 2015 - 8:00 PM
KELOWNA - The family of a quadriplegic man seeking to turn their front yard into parking for his lift-equipped van will not be satisfied with anything less.
Because of that, Ann and Roy Penrose have refused an offer from the city to waive the $700 fee and have them appear before council to argue their case.
They have at least 250 signatures on a petition at change.org demanding the city waive the zoning variance process and grant the Penrose's request.
“(The city) already said staff is not going to support it, so what’s the use,” Ann said, on the phone from her Rutland home.
She believes the city is biased against her because of her ongoing involvement in a bitter dispute over parking with her next door neighbour that has seen city bylaw enforcement at their front door numerous times over the last ten years.
Roy has been in a wheelchair since 2011 and has a medical condition Ann says requires his lift van to be in a straight line directly outside her front door on what is technically now her front lawn.
She says guidelines developed by the Social Planning and Research Council of B.C. support unobstructed access and has enlisted the help of an advocate from that group.
The Penroses are also in the midst of a mediation effort as part of a human rights complaint against the city, accusing them of violating Roy’s rights as a disabled person.
A tribunal hearing date is expected to be announced soon at which point the details of the complaint will become public, but until then city clerk Stephen Fleming said he could not comment on it.
Fleming has said previously that neither staff nor city councillors can override the need for a zoning variance as the process is enshrined in the local government act, which governs how municipalities must proceed when dealing with zoning.
The city clerk confirmed staff do not support the application but that it could proceed to council anyway, where the Penroses could plead their case.
“It’s up to council but they can’t just decide not to go through the process," Fleming says.
Ann says the city has never sent anyone out to look at the layout of the house and yard.
“They have no idea what (disabled) people go through and they don’t care,” Ann says. “I challenge one of them to spend even one day trying to get around in this city in a wheelchair."
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015