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

Garth Dauncey is one of the volunteers working on renovations at a Langley City home for the AOK Extreme Home Repair project. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
AOK home repair could use funding support to aid Langley family

A GoFundMe is looking to raise up to $80,000

One man was seriously injured in a shooting incident at the Willowbrook Shopping Centre on Monday, May 3. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
LETTER: Student poem about Langley shooting gets to the heart of the matter

All the gang violence is fueling the fight, says a young writer

One of three new hangars can be seen going up at the new Langley airport terminal building, blocking the view of the old air traffic control tower (L) , which was closed when NAV Canada operations shifted to the new tower (R).(Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Construction of new Langley airport terminal building nears completion

NAV Canada has moved into the new tower in the terminal, which means work on hangars can proceed

The site of a planned new restaurant will be that of the former Lampliter and the cottage next door on Glover Road. (Langley Advance Times files)
Vacant Fort Langley buildings to be replaced with restaurant

The new project will retain a large tree on Glover Road

Trash collectors in Langley City will start refusing to pick up organic waste mixed with plastic. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Organic waste mixed with plastic will be left at the curb, Langley City warns

Plastic contamination of green bins called ‘exceptionally high and unacceptable’

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

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

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

Most Read