A man from Come by Chance is considering legal action against the Town of Clarenville after his mother was injured in a fall on the town-owned parking lot at the Clarenville Shopping Centre.
Pearl Boutcher, an 83-year-old woman from Come by Chance, was on her way to a doctor’s appointment on Monday, March 11, at around 1.15 p.m. when, according to her son, a leg of her walker fell into a crevasse in the lot. She lost her balance and fell, hitting her face on the ground.
An ambulance was called to take her to the hospital in Clarenville.
Her son, David, was with her when the accident happened. He says she had a terrible gash on her face that exposed the bone underneath. Doctors used several stitches to close the wound. Her face was also badly bruised.
Later that night, town workers began filling potholes in the parking lot. Deputy Mayor Frazer Russell, chair of the public works committee, told the Packet he heard about the accident unofficially but the decision to repair the holes had nothing to do with what happened to Boutcher.
“The condition deteriorated to the point where it became a safety issue,” he said.“Whether we like it or not, the Town of Clarenville is owner of that parking lot. With ownership comes moral and legal responsibilities. It deteriorated to the point where it became a safety issue, so we decided to do something about it.”
Boutcher says he’s skeptical the decision to fill the holes had nothing to do with his mother’s fall. He is seeking legal advice about a possible lawsuit against the town.
“The timing is very suspicious,” he said of the decision to fix the holes. “I think it’s very convenient, but I’m happy they are (repairing the holes), because I’m hoping it’s not going to happen to anyone else.”
Boutcher moved from Ontario less than a month ago to look after his mother and he says he couldn’t believe the state of the parking lot when he saw it.
“It’s really difficult to understand how they could let it get like that with the amount of traffic in the area,” he said.
The Town of Clarenville and business owners of the Clarenville Shopping Centre have been negotiating for years on parking lot ownership. While the town owns the land, it has been allowing the shopping centre to use it for parking for decades. The town wants the shopping centre to take over the property.
The two groups have been planning to meet since at least before Christmas but the meeting was postponed several times due to scheduling conflicts.
Meanwhile, residents have used media to complain about the state of the parking lot, and contacted town councilors directly.
Deanna Burns, a resident of Shoal Harbour who uses the shopping centre, told The Packet in its Feb. 28 edition that she feared for the safety of senior citizens who use the lot.
“We’ve got an aging population in this area,” she said. “Clarenville serves a larger population than it’s ever served before. The number of people who could step into one of those and break a leg or twist an ankle is unbelievable, really.”