Plea to insure private park raises questions for Bay Roberts council

By Craig Westcott/September 16, 2022

Bay Roberts council will consider taking on the responsibility of covering the costs of general liability insurance on a new park in the east end of town that is being developed privately.

It comes after a request from the developers of Jerrett Memorial Park for the Town to assume the cost of public liability insurance as it does at its own facilities.

“I haven’t checked with our insurer yet to see if that’s something they would or could do, or what the implications would be,” chief administrative officer Nigel Black told council at the Tuesday night public meeting. “But if you like, I can certainly do that.”

Councillor Silas Badcock agreed Black should look into it. “My question would be, would an insurance company insure, on our insurance, someone else’s property?” asked the councillor. “Because initially it’s not our property, is it?”

Pointing to a statement in the correspondence, Deputy Mayor Geoff Seymour asked whether it’s true the Town does cover the insurance costs for some facilities that it doesn’t actually own.

“Those examples (cited) are true, but they’re different,” Black replied. “The Goose Pond Trail is an example. We developed it, we maintain it. It might not be in our municipality, but we have the right to use it… we have full control over it. And in the case of the Shoreline Heritage Walk, that’s a trail that was developed years ago and over the course of time we’ve taken over the maintenance of that trail, so again it is a different situation.”

Badcock moved that Black investigate the question of possible insurance coverage for the park.

Councillor Dean Franey said his biggest concern is that the Town may not be able to take preventative action to limit the possibility of injuries or other claims at the park the way it does on the Goose Cove Trail for instance, where Town staff perform maintenance and are aware of the trail’s condition.

“We have no control of the maintenance that is being done down there (at Jerrett Memorial Park),” Franey said. “So, if there’s an issue that becomes a liability, either we don’t know about it, or we can’t go fix it. My big concern about providing insurance is that we’re not in control of the maintenance.”

Mayor Walter Yetman allowed that was a good point.

“We’ll have to take all of that into consideration,” said the mayor. 

By coincidence, earlier in the meeting, during the planning committee report, council was informed that while the committee doesn’t have any major concerns with the development of the park, the steps leading up from it to the sidewalk and roadway could pose a problem when it comes to snow removal.

“We decided it would be in our best interests to let the applicants know that we take no liability with any landscaping improvements there within 22-and-a-half feet of the centre of the road,” Black said. 

Council passed a motion that the Town write the developers informing them it won’t be responsible for covering any damages sustained to the landscaping within the 22-and-a-half feet stretch from the centre of the road. Council’s fear appears to be that snow clearing equipment could damage the steps and curb coming up from the park because they are located so close to the road.

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