A potential solution to the LaSalle Park Marina Association insurance problem may be on the horizon, although by no means certain. The Marina is still closed.
At a City Council meeting this week, staff advised that they are looking into the possibility of the Marina’s current staff and volunteers coming under the category of Civic volunteers, allowing their work to fall under the City’s insurance policy. The Marina could then re-open with the volunteers and staff running the operation as usual.
But, to make such a plan work, the Marina would need to fall directly under the supervision of City staff for the remainder of the year.
While the City hopes to minimize all of its involvement, including direct supervision, City Solicitor Nancy Shea Nicol made it clear that the close supervision must be part of the plan.
“Whatever mechanisms for control, financial and otherwise that we put in play, need to be sufficient for insurance purposes. ….. The City has to have oversight. In order for us to proceed with this model we will have to satisfy our insurer that we do have sufficient control”, reported Shea Nicol.
There are many other questions still to be answered before such an insurance plan could be put in place. It is nowhere near a certainty. But, the City has put together a working team of staff to investigate all the related legal, staffing and financial issues.
“We are getting advice from our insurance company”, said Chris Glenn, Director of Community, Culture and Recreation.
Aldershot Councillor Kelvin Galbraith responded to critics of the City’s effort to rescue the Marina. He reminded Council that the Marina is just one of the City’s Joint Venture Agreements (JVAs) such as the Aldershot Tennis Club, the Gun Club and others. The City owns these facilities, but they are run by volunteers. These seldom understood JVAs have allowed the City to provide certain recreational services at reduced costs.
“It’s been a very difficult situation for the LPMA. I do think that it’s been unfairly targeted. This is really a City asset and a City Joint venture. We have many of them throughout the City and if we choose to cut them off or consider them all net-zero operations, then we will be a City without some recreational facilities”.
Councillor Paul Sharman echoed Galbraith’s comments.
“The nature of the joint venture is that it is our responsibility…. In the end the buck stops with us….. If you’re the owner you have to step up. It is City owned. The City has skin in the game”.
Scott Lowell, speaking for the Burlington Sailing and Boating Club, the Marina Association and the Able Sail program advised Council that the vast majority of his members were supportive of the City’s response to date and appreciated the efforts.
The Marina usually opens in early May but is still closed. It was unable to get liability insurance this year for reasons essentially beyond its control. After exploring all other options the Marina Association turned to the City which already owns and insures the wave-break and the docks.
The public boat ramp is also closed while the Marina remains closed.
Glenn said he hopes to report back no later than June.
By Rick Craven