HUNTSVILLE – Insurance concerns have caused the cancellation of the Port Sydney community yard sale this year.
Ian Currie, co-chair of Port Sydney Parks and Recreation, said the cancellation of the event stemmed from conversations with the Town of Huntsville.
Town staff and councillors have been meeting with community hall boards across the municipality to discuss the human resources, insurance and liability concerns they have with the way the halls are run by the boards.
Changes to the town’s insurance coverage have left community groups such Port Sydney’s Parks and Recreation group which looks after the hall no choice but to either come into compliance with the town’s requirements for insurance coverage or find their own insurance.
While the parks and recreation committee decided at its April 30 meeting to work with the town, Currie said the group is worried it will not have insurance coverage for the annual yard sale so it is cancelling the event.
“The yard sale will not be happening this year because of the concern of the committee regarding time of compliance with the town bylaws and where we are from an insurance coverage perspective,” said Currie. “We don’t feel comfortable right now that we would be properly insured for this event.”
He said the event might have raised about $2,500 for the Port Sydney Community Hall this year and would have taken place in June.
Concerns involved map distribution of the event as well as any potential situation that could develop on the busy roads in the community during the event, said Currie.
But the cancellation does not preclude the event happening next year, he said.
“We had a one-year break in 2007,” said Currie. “So stay tuned for next year.”
And the committee is planning other events for the summer, such as a pulled pork dinner on Friday, June 29.
Kelly Pender, chief administrative officer for the town, said the compliance measures will essentially make the hall boards and the Port Sydney group a committee of council.
There are four requirements to meet compliance.
A member of town council must be on the committee, council must approve its decision making, the municipality must control its finances, and council must appoint committee members. These changes have to take place, said Pender, because the group is not covered by the town’s insurance otherwise.
Coun. Tim Withey, chair of the town’s community services committee, said the proposed changes are not about controlling community events across the municipality.
“We’re not here to strong-arm anyone, but compliance needs to be met,” said Withey.
He explained each community group and board connected to a hall was given options that would allow it to continue using the halls while protecting it, the town, hall users and the taxpayer.
The groups are now discussing which actions they will take. The Aspdin Hall board, said Withey, has also decided to come into compliance.
He said changes do need to be made with the way the halls are run, but the approach is meant to be co-operative.
“We don’t want to upset the community fabric,” he said.