By Kenyon Stronski
Sunny South News
The question of insurance for different groups within the Town of Coalhurst was brought up at the Policy and Bylaw Review Committee at their May 9 meeting. Coun. Scott Akkermans presented to council for the committee.
“Just to add, one of the things we were talking about was insurance for the different groups within town,” began Akkermans. “So, one of the things is that every group will have to have insurance for the events that they put on so one of the things that came up was facility user group programs so that would be kind of the impact on accounts insurance it would be important that the community groups would be able to go in and purchase insurance if they wanted and that would be kind of under the town’s insurance but they’d still be paying for that just to make it like a one-stop-shop you know and then that would be easy for the town to track insurance from. The groups would still be able to use their own insurance outside of that, but we’re looking at the feasibility of just adding that so if somebody was wanting to put something on that resource would be available.”
Deputy Mayor Heather Caldwell poised the first question. “As I’m looking at these minutes, I’m seeing two different things. I’m seeing one that says the committee will bring this item forward to the community for input and the second is the recommendation to council. So, I’m not sure if we’re proceeding with the recommendation or if we’re proceeding with the recommendation to bring this forward to the community during the whole meeting? I don’t know which.”
Coun. Deborah Florence responded, “The conversation was just because it is a little bit time-sensitive and not being able to support the groups as best as we can. We know we need to have that insurance and you know that liability. We wanted to bring that recommendation forward so we can inform the groups as soon as possible, and then hopefully look at other avenues for funding quality. We also talked about the possibility of a customer reimbursement insurance or accessing funds through the rec and culture fund, but just getting it out as soon as possible and having a larger conversation as we all want to support community groups moving forward because I think that’s something that we all want.”
“The recommendation would be for them to temporarily provide their own insurance until we can have that larger conversation?” asked Caldwell.
“I think we should get CAO (Kim) Hauta to provide more information,” responded Florence. “But from what it sounds like for me is, is that we can not provide information for these groups that have their own status so I know for Miners Days, in the past, Miners Days has always gotten their own insurance and then submitted it to the town and the town has paid it, but they’ve had to have their own insurance as a standalone.”
Caldwell responded that she thinks it’s important for council to have that conversation, as it can be unsustainable for a small non-profit to provide their own insurance. “We’ve had different models of providing insurance, so we either support the groups to pay if they’re a non-profit providing benefits to our community — we’ve had them under the umbrella of the town and I think it’s important that we have the conversation about what this could look like in terms of rec and culture. I think at this point, saying temporarily while we work through this, it might not be a bad idea but I’m not comfortable with a motion that says ‘these groups provide their own insurance hands down’ because part of our goal is to sort of create those leadership organizations in our community that provide benefit to our community. Those volunteers that step up and take care of all the activities in our community and so we wanted to sort of open up the door and invite more people in. Placing that kind of ownership on one’s shoulders might be a little bit of a deterrent because it can be quite costly for a small group that is just working on a volunteer basis.”
Florence said it came up because they want to know how to support the community. “So, that’s where it came up and so that’s what’s being investigated. It’s led to paying insurance and how to make it happen. Can I ask CAO Hauta to weigh in?”
It was allowed for Hauta to provide more information.
“The information that I received from AMSC, which is the town’s insurance, was asking the question in terms of whether it be the Rec and Culture Committee or the Parks and Recreation Society? Two previously minor states to that type of thing, what kind of coverages would be covered through the town’s policy or what would be required from some of the other individuals. So, in terms of the Coalhurst Parks and Rec Society, it was indicated that they are a separate, recognized society not-for-profit registered accordingly with the province, and as such, their insurance would not be part of the town’s. They would have to have their own insurance which would minimally cost through AMSC about $1,800 a year which may or may not be enough depending on what sort of events they choose to put on. However, like the Rec and Culture Committee putting on whatever why may choose to put on will be covered. The volunteers, employees and other staff would be covered under the town’s insurance that wouldn’t be extra up over other than certain exclusions already in our policy, such as bouncy castles, rodeos — if you wanted to do rodeos or things like that.”
“The more risky things are excluded or you could purchase additional insurance for those types of things. The simple explanation is that parks and rec would need to purchase their own insurance, which could come via the town’s insurer similar to how Miners Days had and if the town chose to pay the premium similar to Miners Days. That’s the task for sure and then anything such as they suggest that regardless whether it’s town events or Parks and Rec Society – if they want to put on bouncy castle parties or those types of things then they should have their own third party insurance coverage.”
Caldwell weighed in on the information, “So, if we move forward with this motion that it’s required as a standalone non-profit society that they are not covered by town insurance, and just make a motion that they are to explore their own insurance options, then the letter can state that, if we have this larger conversation, that the town is prepared to work with them on that?”
Coun. Jesse Potrie stepped in, saying that he is no longer on the board of the society but was at the meeting as a member. “They did approve a motion to purchase their own insurance through the Alberta Municipalities. I don’t know if that’s a moot point or not.”
Caldwell said it’s not, commenting that paying for their own insurance is not sustainable. “I can’t imagine for any small group at that rate to pay $1,800 a year, it’s not sustainable. So we want to sort of get in practice how we support these volunteer groups.”
After more discussion, Florence began a motion stating, “That the council of the Town of Coalhurst authorize CAO Hauta to submit a letter to the Parks and Rec Society in regards to providing their own insurance and advising any third party vendors at their events that they should also provide their own insurance.”
The motion was defeated with Caldwell, Potrie, and Mayor Lyndsay Montina opposed.
A new motion was begun by Caldwell stating, “that as a non-profit society, they are unable to be covered by the town, and I would ask the question to CAO Hauta if that is still considered an amendment or if it changes the structure of the motion too much?”
It was noted that a new motion was required, as the original was defeated. The motion passed with Florence and Akkermans opposed.