Drivers of motorized scooters and wheelchairs say proposed regulations are discriminatory.

Drivers of motorized scooters and wheelchairs say proposed regulations are discriminatory.

Licensing wheelchair users ‘discriminatory’

A White Rock accessibility advocate says targeting mobility devices will create further challenges for those who need them.

Regulating the use of motorized scooters and wheelchairs will do more harm than good, says a White Rock woman who relies on one of the vehicles for day-to-day activities.

“I think it’s discriminatory,” said Leslie Konkin, of a proposal to be debated at next month’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

Put forth by Sidney council, the resolution urges the province to regulate the use of motorized mobility aids – including wheelchairs and scooters – and require training, testing and licensing of operators.

Konkin, 57, serves as an accessibility consultant on White Rock’s advisory design panel. She said that if adopted, such regulations will only make life more challenging for people like herself – it will not solve any problems.

While Sidney council’s resolution argues that seniors drive the appliances too fast on sidewalks without any regulation, Konkin said the majority of users – as with motorists – “are doing a good job of using them safely,” and that education and simple common sense amongst operators and pedestrians alike will go much farther to address any problems.

“I don’t think rules and regulations and mandates and licensing is going to solve anything,” she said, encouraging the issue be left where it now stands, between patients and their healthcare providers.

Living with multiple sclerosis and not able to walk more than a step or two unaided, Konkin has relied on a medi-scooter for about 15 years.

She said people need to remember that the equipment, for the majority of operators, serves as a replacement for users’ legs, not their vehicles.

“It would make things more onerous, as far as getting licensed, paying what they’re going to charge,” Konkin said.

“It’s just another thing an already energy-taxed person would have to deal with.”

Officials with the motorist-advocacy group, SENSE BC, describe the proposal as a “laughable” example of bureaucratic overkill.

Semiahmoo Peninsula politicians offered a range of opinions.

Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg said he doesn’t sense it’s a major problem but added “some authority” is probably needed, preferably through provincial law that lets individual cities regulate the machines if they deem it necessary.

“People are generally pretty well-behaved,” he said. “Public policy generally should not be developed for exceptions.”

White Rock deputy mayor Grant Meyer questioned the impact enforcing scooter regulations would have on that city’s already busy bylaw staff.

But White Rock Coun. Larry Robinson said he’s all for it.

“There has to be some type of regulation, including you to be approved or prescribed to use them,” he said.

Robinson said he has seen people operating electric wheelchairs holding up traffic.

And he said he knows people who don’t have a medical need for the machines but just like to use them to get around.

“I don’t think you should be able to walk into a store and walk out with an electric scooter and just drive it wherever you want. There has to be some qualification for the use.”

There’s currently no registration, insurance or licence required to operate the devices in B.C.

The province has indicated to UBCM it intends to develop a co-ordinated plan for safe operation of motorized scooters, including possible amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act.

The provincial coroner in 2008 issued recommendations supporting scooter regulation after several scooter-riding seniors died in crashes with vehicles.

The B.C. Coalition of People with Disabilities opposes the idea.

“These are mobility devices that people need to get out into the community,” said executive director Jane Dyson. “Such a regulation would impede their independence.”

The proposal is among at least three transportation-related resolutions that will be on the floor at the UBCM convention in Vancouver in late September.

 

Just Posted

Jack and Arleen Mar celebrated their wedding 60 years ago. (Contributed photo)
White Rock couple celebrates 60 years of marriage

‘Listen to your wife,’ Jack Mar offered as advice to newlyweds

A cache of 89 crabs was discovered during a 2018 compliance inspection at South Surrey’s Elgin Park Marina. (Contributed photo)
$7,500 fine for illegal crab harvest discovered in South Surrey

Laird Goddyn found guilty in Surrey Provincial Court following 2018 investigation

Fraser Health held a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib in Surrey on Friday, May 7, 2021. Roughly 400 people pre-registered to get their vaccine the week before. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Fraser Health to host 32-hour ‘Vax-A-Thon’ in Surrey

It will start June 19 at 11 a.m. and run until June 20 at 7 p.m.

South Surrey’s Meridian Golf Course – a 15-acre property that also includes a residence – has been sold. (Colliers Canada photo)
South Surrey’s Meridian Golf Course sold to new owners

Deal for popular par 3 course expected to close by end of the year

Gerry Vowles (left), Michael Cook, and Dave Sinclair were awarded “Dominion Command Presidential Citations” June 17 in Cloverdale. The rare awards were given out for “exemplary service to the Legion.” (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Three B.C. legionnaires awarded ‘Presidential Citations’

Ceremony took place in Cloverdale June 17

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

An old growth cedar stands in a cut-block within the Caycuse Valley. More than 100 prominent Canadians, have signed an open letter calling for the immediate protection of all remaining old-growth forests in B.C. (Submitted)
Brian Mulroney and Greta Thunberg among 100 celebrities pushing to save B.C. old growth

List includes Indigenous leaders, scientists, authors, Oscar winners

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on Friday, February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
U.S. border restrictions to remain in place until at least July 21

Safety minister says Canada, U.S. extending restrictions on non-essential international travel

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

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

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

Most Read