By Austin Everett
Sara Mellish wanted to treat her elderly mother to a soft-serve ice cream cone. But an encounter recently with a notorious post in a parking lot left her with a detached car fender, a wheel that could barely turn and an expensive appointment with an autobody shop just up the road.
The post, in the centre of the parking lot of the Tsawwassen Dairy Queen on 56th Street, has been blamed for causing Tsawwassen residents expensive repairs and frustration for decades.
The black and red post, which has been there since 1970, has been a well-known factor for ICBC claims, according to residents, and has brought autobody repair shops a lot of business.
Mellish, who lives in Powell River and often visits Tsawwassen, was the latest casualty.
“I think somebody should do something because I know I’m not alone in this,” Mellish said.
When she took her car into the Tsawwassen Collision, they knew exactly what she was referring to when she told them she had a single-vehicle accident with a post, she said.
Tsawwassen Collision did not want to comment for the story.
Mellish said she was turning into the Dairy Queen parking lot when a truck came her way. Deciding to go around it, she turned left. But the sun was low and the post, being short in stature, was blocked by the frame of Mellish’s car window. She hit the post.
“I had to make a claim, so I did lose my safe driving discount that I’d had for decades,” Mellish said. “It was totally not visible to me, zero visibility.”
The claim amounted to $8,000.
In a Facebook post by Mellish that received more than 80 comments, Tsawwassen residents shared their stories and opinions about the post.
Posting on Facebook, Thea Wessler shared her story, and said the post should stay: “I think the post should not be changed. My sister and her first high school boyfriend hit this post, my friend’s mom hit the post then hit the school president. I’ve hit the post after a much needed dipped cone.”
Aaron Asp, the CEO of Parking BOXX, a company which manufactures and designs parking lots and equipment throughout North America, said that while bollards, or posts, are installed to protect items such as equipment or signage, there are other ways to provide protection if the post is hazardous for motorists.
Infrastructure such as “adding a curb, positioning a bollard closer to the asset or painting the existing bollard a bright reflective colour or a combination of these options [would work],” said Asp in an email response to The Voice.
Mellish said she was suggesting changes to the post in a letter she was writing a letter to the owner of the Dairy Queen.
Karen Gill, the manager of the Tsawwassen Dairy Queen, told The Voice she has hit the post herself. She said she is committed to ensuring the store owner Rahul Mehta takes action.
“I will talk to my owner about it, but for now I have no clue what we can do,” Gill said.