Minden Hills council remained at an impasse after a debate about how onerous the township’s insurance requirements are for running events.
Staff presented a report on liability and Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) insurance requirements during a committee of the whole meeting Sept. 12. The municipal events committee raised concerns that first-party insurance requirements are impeding event organizers.
Coun. Jennifer Hughey, who serves on the events committee, said this is giving the township a bad reputation.
“There are certain risks I feel we need to take to improve our reputation in the county for being a place where people can do things and there won’t be as much red tape,” Hughey said.
Hughey said the township’s insurance requirements are causing vendors and artists to turn away, creating hurdles for organizers.
“Events in our community have not been as successful and I know there are many vendors who have chosen not to work in Minden anymore,” Hughey told The Highlander.
Into the Blue Bakery is one of those vendors. Owner Janine Papadopoulos said after a lengthy back-and-forth this past summer trying to adhere to the township’s specific insurance requirements, despite years of having her insurance in place, she opted to stop attending Minden events for now.
“I love going to Minden and I would continue to go to Minden. However, as a small business owner, it wasn’t the easiest process,” Papadopoulous said.
She added for years, the township has required more liability from her than neighbouring Haliburton townships. She’s required $5 million coverage in Minden, compared to $2 million elsewhere in Haliburton, which amounts to an additional $250 per year.
Chief administrative officer Lorrie Blanchard spoke about how the municipality seeks proof of insurance from independent operators, contractors and service providers. When it comes to liability, Blanchard said the municipality generally seeks assurance by being named as an additionally insured on other people’s policies.
Blanchard said the township could cover these independents under its own general liability coverage but their provider has advised against it.
“It’s about council setting that level of risk,” Blanchard said. “It’s okay to take on that risk, it’s just knowing you are taking on the risk.”
Deputy mayor Lisa Schell said council should consider reducing insurance requirements for low-risk independents.
“I for one highly recommend those kinds of things that are obviously extremely low risk, in my opinion, that council would have a discussion,” Schell said. “We’re just pushing stuff away.”
Not all vendors have minded the township’s requirements. Boshkung Brewing event co-ordinator Kasara McKay said getting insurance for events in Minden is not an issue for them.
“It’s a pain in the butt, anything bureaucratic is, but if you want to get it done, you do it,” McKay said.
No motion came forward from the council discussion.
Hughey said if nothing else, the township needs to be consistent and communicate. She recommended an information sheet be created to tell people about insurance requirements.
“We need to work together as an organization to make both pitching events and running events a little bit easier and a little bit more attractive.”