Port Colborne – ”The Store-Front Car-Crash Capital Of Canada.”

It happened again! I’m looking at Page 6 of the July 25th edition of this newspaper which shows a photo that has become all too familiar to residents of the city of Port Colborne; namely the ass end of a car sticking out of the front end of a retail store. In this case it was Christopher’s Pizza that makes a very good, medium-crust pizza which on Wednesday was topped with bits of plastic and glass.
Apparently, a woman picking up a pizza at eleven in the morning hit her gas pedal instead of the brake when she pulled up to the building. A team of ten firefighters quickly removed the SUV from the rubble and installed support beams to the hole in the building in record time because…they’re gettin’ real good at it!
Good lord, it was just 18 months ago that I wrote a column titled: “Can’t anybody in Port Colborne drive anymore?”. In that piece I detailed no less than four accidents in this small town of 18,000 people in which cars crashed through the front of retail outlets.
First there was the car that crashed through the front of Judy’s Bakery. Then there was the car that crashed through the front of Judy’s Bakery. No, not a typo. Judy’s once-in-a-lifetime nightmare happened twice too often. The last time Judy saw a motorized vehicle speeding through her pastry section, a 75-year-old woman, arguing with her husband hit the gas instead of the brake and entered the store through the front window. Joanne, the only employee in the store out ran the oncoming car, exited the back door and like Forest Gump was last seen jogging across America’s Mid-West. Subsequently, Judy replaced her “OPEN” sign with a “STOP” sign and added the warning: “Cars must yield to customers on foot.”
Then there was a guy I nicknamed “Daredevil Dave” who side-swiped six cars on King Street before burying his pickup truck in the window of the Bargain Shop on the corner of King and Clarence Streets. Dave Taylor claimed he took a head hit in a workshop accident and was lapsing in and out of consciousness while trying to drive himself to the hospital. Police disagreed and charged him with impaired driving. Everybody jumped to the wrong conclusion. At the time I wrote: “Police believe alcohol may have been involved in the same way that when a barn burns to the ground, fire is usually suspected.”
Well guess what? Dave Taylor was not impaired; he did have a medical emergency and all charges were dropped. Sadly, few remember that part of the story.
However, I still stand by my theory that in the wake of this extraordinary one-man demolition derby, given the number of tow truck operators required as well as body shop workers, insurance agents, brick layers, street sweepers and glass installers–Dave Taylor was good for the local economy.
Then there was the driver who banged up ten vehicles in the Food Basics parking lot and now we have the woman who closed Christopher’s Pizza about a minute after it opened. Apparently the guy who drove his van into the canal near Clarence Street a few days later somehow missed a store!
With a car-crash crisis on their hands I would urge Mayor Bill Steele and his council to take the following emergency measures to end this dangerous trend of Port Colborne drivers entering stores through their front walls before the entire town looks like an open-air farmers’ market.
• Have tow trucks parked at all corners of the downtown core during business hours.
• Deploy graduates of the Young Drivers of Canada program to go door-to-door with charts and an instructional video showing residents the distinctly different locations of the gas pedal and the brake pedal. They are not to even whisper the word “clutch.”
• Install cement barriers in front of the Emergency Entrance at the hospital because if somebody demolishes that building, we’re all up Schitt’s Creek without a health card.
• Erect rubber bumper pylons in front of all retail stores so that a car headed for the front door would be shunted off into a temporary exit beside the store. Sign: “Do not back up. The next store-front crasher might be right behind you!”
• Pitch all the major automobile manufacturers to relocate their “Car Crash Dummies” testing program to Port Colborne using our system of experienced volunteers.
• Have somebody back a car into a store-front just to break-up the monotony of looking at rear-end news photos all the time.
• Erect a fence around Simmond’s Auto because a car sticking half out of a body shop would definitely make the national news.
Also, a sign at the city limits would help: “Welcome to Port Colborne. Not all of our stores have Drive Thrus. Okay?”
Last week I was having lunch on the patio at The Breakwall Brewing Company which is actually a platform that juts out onto Clarence Street. Sitting quite close to passing cars my buddy Al Dicenso commented on the safety of our location. “No, no Al,” I was able to say. “This is Port Colborne. If we were sitting inside at the bar, then we’d have something to worry about.”

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