Kim Cooper, 53, stands next to her vehicle with a disabled parking pass permit on Wednesday, April 28, in Parksville. (Mandy Moraes photo)

Kim Cooper, 53, stands next to her vehicle with a disabled parking pass permit on Wednesday, April 28, in Parksville. (Mandy Moraes photo)

B.C. woman with heart condition verbally accosted over disabled parking stall

‘I just burst into tears… I mean, I was just shaking’

Not judging someone based on their appearance is a lesson commonly taught to children – and one a Parksville woman wants members of the community to remember.

On Wednesday (April 28) Kim Cooper, 53, pulled into a designated disability stall at a Parksville parking lot when a woman began to aggressively yell at her.

“I wasn’t even completely parked, my sign was on my dash where it always is. And I opened my door and said ‘are you yelling at me?’ And she said ‘yes, where’s your handicap sign?’ And I went ‘it’s on my dash.’ And she just kept going on and on and on.”

Cooper survived a heart attack approximately 10 years ago and has lived with congestive heart failure ever since, a chronic and progressive condition that affects the pumping power of her heart. Living with such a condition can leave her winded while walking long distances, which can stress her heart and further exacerbate her condition.

READ MORE: B.C. permanently increases disability and income assistance, senior’s supplement

Due to the nature of her condition, she has a disabled parking permit that allows her to park in the designated stalls near a building’s entrance.

“I was going to the dry cleaners, and she’s complaining about me in Bosley’s, and I went to open the door at the dry cleaners and she attacked me again.”

While still visibly distraught, the co-owner of Bosley’s by Pet Valu, Brianne Carson, approached Cooper and offered to walk her back to her vehicle.

“And I just burst into tears. She probably spent 35 minutes with me. I mean, I was just shaking,” said Cooper. “And it’s not right. I think we need to address the situation that ‘hey, not everybody has a visible handicap’.”

“To judge someone based on what we see is something we teach our children not to do, so as adults we shouldn’t be doing that either,” said Carson.

The chair for the Accessible Oceanside Association, Sandra Hobson, said while experiences like Cooper’s are uncommon, they are not unheard of.

“There are certainly instances where somebody who has a has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or a heart condition – they may not be able to walk the length of the parking lot. And they need those accessible spaces,” she said.

“It could also just be someone who’s really sick, or they’re recovering from a surgery. Even if it’s temporary, it might not be visible but it still is genuine.”

READ MORE: Canada home to 6.5 million people with one or more disability

Hobson said that while we think we’re not an ableist society, many instances show we are. Such a mentality may cause people with genuine disabilities hesitate to claim the services they require, simply so they’re not seen as playing the system.

“The more stigma there is, the less people are likely to claim very necessary services,” she said, noting such behaviour can injure a person’s self-esteem and cause them to feel further devalued.

As identified by SPARC BC, the organization to manage B.C.’s Parking Permit Program, someone who needs to park close to a building entrance because their health prevents them from walking far would qualify them for a parking pass permit. On their website it states that a parking pass permit for people with disabilities ensures that a person with mobility limitations can park in one of the designated parking stalls throughout British Columbia.

As per their application form, all applications require a referral from the applicant’s doctor.

mandy.moraes@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

DisabilityParksville

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

If the police are only going to be able to supply a limited amount of security, other options need to be explored to keep residents protected. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Security requires creative solutions

Hiring a company or soliciting volunteers to do patrols among the ideas

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring. (File photo)
North Cowichan considers extending deadline for property tax payments

A two-month deadline extension to Sept. 1 gets three readings

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Letters to the Editor.
Speedy service by operations department

North Cowichan responds to deplorable conditions at Askew Creek Park

The Yellow Sub Machine has been open for business for nearly two months. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Pandemic pivot leads to the creation of the Yellow Sub Machine for gourmet sub grub

Former Odika owners stake their claim in the food truck business

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

A worker rides a bike at a B.C. Hydro substation in Vancouver, on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Hydro report raises safety concerns as pandemic prompts jump in yard work

Incidents involving weekend tree trimmers, gardeners and landscapers have risen 30% since the pandemic hit

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read