Emma MacPhail

Langford senior’s calls for action heard by retail giant

Injured scooter rider prompts Walmart to take action to fix steep corner

A trip to the supermarket that ended in injury for Emma MacPhail prompted her to ensure it doesn’t happen again, to her or any other motorized scooter users. And it turns out her efforts to make positive change are being acted upon.

The 90-year-old resident of the Alexander Mackie Lodge in Langford was riding to Walmart along Phipps Road on July 25. When she attempted to turn right off Phipps and head up toward the store, she and her scooter toppled over at the corner, which has a steep incline and a narrow path she said make it very challenging to navigate safely.

“I fell onto the road. It’s a dangerous place to fall, because the sidewalk is narrow (and) if you fall as I did into the road, it is quite dangerous,” she said.

“If a car came along it could run you over.”

Fortunately for her, a quick-thinking friend riding behind her drove her scooter onto the road to block traffic, but MacPhail, a retired social worker, said the damage was done.

“I skinned my arm, (it) was bleeding and sore and all my side was hurt. It took seven weeks before it cured. I had a lot of injuries with muscles and it was hard to breathe,” she said. “It hurt to take a deep breath and it hurt to lie down.”

MacPhail wrote the City of Langford and the manager of Walmart, hoping to prevent others from suffering the same fate.

She discovered that Langford doesn’t have authority in this matter.

“I have been able to confirm with our engineering department that they are aware of this situation and have been out to the site to assess it,” Langford deputy director of planning, Leah Strohmann, wrote in an email to MacPhail.

She continued, “However, as the sidewalk in question is located on private property (owned by Walmart Canada Corp) and not within a City-owned boulevard, we are unable to enter the property to complete any improvements, and we do not have any bylaw mechanism to compel Walmart to pursue this themselves.”

Alex Roberton, director of corporate affairs for Walmart Canada, said that MacPhail’s letter, once received, was forwarded immediately to their head office in Toronto, where the architect and construction teams began investigating the dangerous corner.

“We’re taking this very seriously and giving it a full review, and looking into solutions for our customer,” he said. “It has to be safe, and it has to work, so we’ll take our time to make sure we’ve got it right.”

Wayne Fleet of City Wide Scooter and Wheelchairs said he has tried to contact the retailer in the past regarding the same issue.

“I have seen lots of people tip over there,” he said. “It is too much on the slope. Even if I was driving a scooter, I wouldn’t drive across that area, it’s too dangerous.”

MacPhail suggested widening the walkway by cutting into the landscaping or paving the pathway a short distance up the road to create a different path to the store.

She’s open to any other suggestions to make the sidewalk safer for the many people who rely on scooters such as herself.

“I feel I was fortunate not to be more badly injured and run over. I was concerned it might happen to someone else and they (might) not be so fortunate.”

alim@goldstreamgazette.com