Montreal

Verdun mayor slammed for inventing story of injured skateboarder

Verdun borough Mayor Jean-François Parenteau is under fire for falsely reporting that a 14-year-old was seriously injured at a local skateboard park still under construction.

No child was injured at skatepark, borough mayor Jean-François Parenteau confesses

The Verdun borough mayor said he invented the false injury in an attempt to underline the dangers of skateboarders using the uncompleted facility. (Sterling Downey/Facebook)

Verdun's borough mayor, Jean-François Parenteau, is under fire for falsely reporting that a 14-year-old was seriously injured at a local skateboard park still under construction. 

Parenteau fabricated the incident in a text message he sent out to Verdun elected officials Sunday, advising them that a teenager was in critical condition after falling "head first on a post." 

Parenteau later wrote that he invented the story as a means of underlining the possibility that people could get hurt using the unfinished skatepark, which has been frequented by many skateboarders in the past few weeks.

Councillor upset by 'accident'

Sterling Downey, the Projet Montréal councillor for Desmarchais-Crawford, said that he was upset when he received the news of the injury.  

"My immediate reaction was, 'Oh My God, a child is in the hospital'," Downey told CBC's Daybreak Tuesday.

"I [could] only imagine what's going on for the parents and families and friends and the kids and adults that were around when it happened. My heart sunk into my stomach," Downey said.

'Super excited' park's already in use: Downey

On Saturday, the day before the borough mayor's text, Downey had promoted the skateboard park on Facebook, saying he was "super excited to see over 90 skaters using the new Verdun skatepark and it's still not even open."

Downey didn't mention safety in the post, however, he said to Daybreak that police and other authorities have done little to prevent skateboard enthusiasts from entering the construction zone and using the unfinished skatepark.

He said he had advised authorities that many skateboarders were getting into the unopened facility at Gaétan Laberge Boulevard and Hickson Street but that "nothing was done."

Parenteau explains hoax text

Parenteau wrote Downey to explain why he invented the story, in response to Downey's Facebook post.

"It was to demonstrate a realistic scenario that we could have all been involved in," he said.

"I hope you'll understand that it's fine to be cool and excited for this project, but one must be responsible above all else."

In an interview with CBC Tuesday afternoon, Parenteau apologized for his actions.

He said his text message aimed to dissuade Downey from promoting the skatepark while it was still under construction.

Downey defended himself against Parenteau's criticism that he had been promoting the skatepark before it was ready.

He attributed the mayor's motivation to jealousy. 

"It's no secret I've been an avid skateboarder and have been for 30 years and have a network of people involved.  I'm going to promote this. I'm proud of my borough," said Downey.

The skatepark is slated to be opened in about two weeks. 


Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said that the skatepark was slated to open next year. A Verdun borough official told CBC Wednesday that the park is expected to open "in about two weeks."
    Nov 11, 2015 2:28 PM ET

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