Water Park voted down

At the end of a long council session that went until well after 10:00 pm last night, Council had a long debate on whether there was too big a risk in NOT proceeding with the Water Park which might result in getting sued versus continuing with what some councillors saw as a project that was not popular with citizens.  The vote was close at 4-3.  This may need to be confirmed at the regular council meeting next week but the decision was quite clear.  The reason that the Council meeting was long was because there were a large number of delegations – these will be the subject of a future post or two.  One of the delegations was by John Hill, a retired lawyer, who pointed out the risk of the liability of children who “trespassed” on the Park and then got into difficulties.

Mayor John Henderson - 19 Feb
Mayor John Henderson – 19 Feb

But on the other side, there was the risk that cancelling the project would end up with the Town getting sued for breach of contract and this would not be covered by insurance.

The recommendation on the Agenda was to receive the report from Dean Hustwick for information – summarized here – but Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin moved an amendment as follows:

Whereas there is no support in the 2015-2018 Strategic Plan for the playground and
Whereas no contract was negotiated or signed or security deposit provided and no floating playground was installed in 2018 and
Whereas there is no guarantee that additional lifeguards can be hired by ATL in 2019 and
Whereas council acknowledges the inherent risks and dangers that may cause injuries and possible deaths to participants as outlined in the liability release of waiver claims and drafted by Summer Water Sports and
Whereas the Town of Cobourg could possibly be held liable for any injury or accident occurring on the floating playground and regardless of the insurance policy of the provider
Now therefore be it resolved that Council direct the Director of Community Services to notify ATL Distributing that the Town of Cobourg will not be installing a floating playground at Victoria Beach in 2019.  And as there is no signed agreement to terminate, relations with ATL Distributing be discontinued.

Councillor Brian Darling wanted to proceed because we should honour the previous decision by Council and because he was concerned about the possibility of being sued.  He pointed out that we don’t worry about the liability of dangers on the beach when there are no lifeguards.

Adam Bureau said that the extra revenue gained would be used up by the extra costs related to garbage collection and patrolling – he also pointed to a parking problem.

Aaron Burchat said that there are always risks and that if it does not work out, it could be removed after two years.

Mayor John Henderson said it was a “delicate position” – in the original vote in April 2018, John voted against the project.

Nicole Beatty said she was “against the product” but was concerned about a lawsuit so wanted the project to go through.

Emily Chorley said she had researched the park mentioned in Dean’s report that was on a big lake – Whoa Zone at Whihala Beach on Lake Michigan – and found that there had in fact been problems when there were high winds.  She also said that the public seemed to not want it.

The voting was 4-3 to kill the project with the voting as follows:

Continue Stop
Aaron Burchat
Nicole Beatty
Brian Darling
Suzanne Séguin
John Henderson
Emily Chorley
Adam Bureau

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5 years ago

In many ways I agree with Wally, it is depressing to think of recent attempts at ‘muzzling fun’ – street hockey, play-grounds and equipment, etc all in the name of avoiding ‘potential’ litigation. Maybe there is room for a water park but not this one. John Hill provided a cogent argument. Not that he was against fun but against a bad deal – specifically the liability component. This is a necessary component of any contract between corps; this deal from the supplier side involved the use of a shell company fronting ATL specifically, in my opinion, setup to avoid potential litigation or rather the impact of that potential. I commend John for his research, his competency and taking the time to share that competency with Council and the rest of us.

Wally Keeler
5 years ago

Here is the Lake Michigan waterpark. Note that there is a lack of anti-tacky fuddy duddies in the video. The waterpark is mostly meant for families and children and youths. It gives them a good outdoor workout as a side benefit to the most important value: FUN! .

I recall the ludicrousness several years ago when the Toronto school board removed all playground equipment from schoolyards because of a liability/insurance issue of children harming themselves falling off a teeter-totter, or getting bonked in the head from an errant swing, and the subsequent costs to care for the injuries, especially a catastrophic bonk in the head from an errant swing that will cost tens of millions for the care of the hapless child.

Authorities are not in the park overnight when teens take to the swings and one injures themselves seriously with a life-altering injury costing tens of millions. Do we remove the swings from the park as a safety hazard?

Reply to  Wally Keeler
5 years ago

I’ve even taken my kids on a late night skate at the Frink…after hours…sans bubble wrap or helmets.

The is a balance required and controls that can be put into place to mitigate risk – I suppose the ultimate risk mitigation strategy is to simply so no to everything. I suspect Chorley, Seguin and Henderson will continue to impress us with their ability to say no in clever new ways for the next 4 years…

5 years ago

Can’t wait to see if this Council will demand higher insurance bonds from all of the beach users from now volleyballers, sand castle builders and the others. As a Council watcher from way back this vote just shows me, once again that the last refuge of a non-courageous Councillor is to retreat behind any and all mentions of liability.

5 years ago

No surprise in seeing Chorley firmly attached to the Mayor’s hip vote no and of course Seguin right there as well. Funny how Chorley used the “will of the people” argument however chose not to support the nearly 80% in the Opt-in for cannabis survey – beginning to wonder which people she represents. Adam’s arguments were paper thin at best and disappointing.

I know its early and I want to withhold judgement however it will be interesting to continue to track the voting activity of individual members of Council. I’m wondering if we are beginning to see a trend.

Pamela Jackson
5 years ago

Congratulations to the four who had the backbone to vote this
tacky waterpark down. You have spared the beautiful town of
Cobourg many headaches. Maybe Rice Lake would like it.

Mrs. Anonymous
5 years ago

As a kid, I would have thought this looked liked a super fun activity.

However, with all the problems associated with municipalities and the issue of joint and several liability, I can appreciate the concerns regarding going forward with this type of project.

Anecdotally, I had heard that the water park company was not offering enough money to the lifeguards to make it worth while for them to take on the job.

Edited to add a thank-you for letting us know how the elected officials voted on this matter. Always appreciated.

5 years ago

Personally, I didn’t think it was a good idea….right from the start! Good for all those that voted to ‘not proceed’ with the floating park.