Danger continues to lurk underfoot

Story and photos by Jim Brown
In mid-April of last year I wrote a column warning about the serious threat to youngsters and others posed by jagged, broken slabs of concrete along the banks of a stream in North Granville, at Taylor Road and the Rattenbury.

A few days ago I went down to the same location I had warned about last spring, to see if smelt might be schooling early, since there was a warm break in the weather.
Both banks were covered by snow almost as high as my knees, but it wasn’t the snow I was worried about. I knew there was something treacherous hidden underneath and I watched every step I took to the streambed.

I thought I had taken every precaution.
And yet as I crept closer to the stream, I felt my foot slip.
My heart stopped as I tried to regain my footing. Fortunately, I escaped injury, although my dip net fell into the snow and slithered to the water’s edge.
That close, I thought. What if it were a child standing there, or a senior citizen in frail health?
I’m actually quite surprised there hasn’t been a serious accident yet.
Last year I wrote:
“For years now I’ve headed down there, carefully watching my feet so they wouldn’t slip on bare, often jagged cement blocks lining the bank…Less than a week ago I had a scary misstep within five minutes, my feet sliding off a slick, rain-soaked block of cement. I banged my knee in the process but suffered no lasting injuries. Over the years I’ve been very fortunate, despite many slips, to suffer nothing more serious than cuts and bruises.”
Things obviously haven’t changed in the year. The broken, jagged slabs are still there, they are still a threat to anyone who casts a line or pokes a net into the water.
Not even a sign has been erected to warn anglers of the peril underfoot.
There are big liability issues at stake and I wouldn’t be surprised if there had been several injuries since the slabs were laid, hopefully nothing worse than bruises, scrapes and cuts.
We simply don’t how often this happened, because it’s likely the injuries happened to people visiting from other parts of the Island or perhaps from away.
I also wrote: “What happens when an excited youngster rushes to the water’s edge to dip their net into a school of smelt or land the first trout of the season when the banks are still covered in snow? Will they conk their head and see stars? Will they get taken to the hospital with broken bones or worse? What if they slip and end up in the fast rushing early spring water?”
I believe the residents of this area have been very lucky over the years that nobody has been seriously injured, or worse. How much longer is it realistic to expect that run of good fortune to continue?
It’s up to our provincial government to do something now, before tragedy strikes. And take my word for it, it will.
If anyone thinks it’s costly to remove the slabs now, likely using a winch and a crane, wait until someone gets hurt and lawyers start circling like sharks.