Groups using municipal recreation facilities in The Nation must now also have additional liability insurance, according to a policy approved by council on July 10, which took effect on July 17.

Recreation Director Carol-Ann Scott said Scott explained to council that the insurance is designed to protect leagues, other organizations, and the municipality from any liability resulting from any litigation related to the injury of individuals.

Scott said the issue has been discussed for years between her department and the various groups that use facilities. Staff worked with the municipality’s insurance broker to establish rates for a variety of activities and events that take place at municipal facilities. Those range from hall rentals for social events to recreational hockey leagues. The rates vary for the number of hours and days an event takes place, and for the type of event and activity. Rates are higher for events and activities where alcohol is served. The liability insurance covers up to $5 million.

Minor and “AA” hockey leagues using the arena in St-Isidore are not affected by the new requirement.  

“They all have their own insurance. They’re insured under Hockey Canada. They’re covered,” said Scott.

However, the new insurance requirement will apply to recreational hockey leagues that rent the arena. Scott said whoever signs a facility rental agreement becomes legally responsible. She said the municipality is only liable in cases where an injury results from proven defects or safety hazards in the infrastructure.

Mayor Francis Brière described the cost to users as “peanuts” considering what the risk is by not having insurance. He said the municipality is saving users money by offering use of their liability insurance, rather than having to purchase it independently.

“I’m going to have to explain this to people, and I can see people not being too excited about this at all,” commented Councillor Tim Stewart.

He said the liability insurance should be optional.  

Scott said at least two sports leagues already have their own liability insurance.

Stewart asked if making the insurance mandatory would lead to lower insurance rates for the municipality.

Scott agreed it should, but said it was unfortunately not possible.

“It doesn’t work that way,” she remarked.

Scott said the liability insurance to facility users will be revenue-neutral for the municipality. The costs will be collected from users and then forwarded to the insurance company.

The new liability insurance requirement does not extend to community events such as the annual Festival du canard et de la plume in St-Isidore.

Stewart asked if the municipal requirement would replace any private liability insurance policies organizations already have.

Scott said facility users can still have their own liability insurance and are welcome to shop around if they do not want to use what the municipality offers. She emphasized that all that will be required is that they have the insurance. The cost will be added to facility use contracts automatically unless the users provide proof of independent insurance.

Scott said the groups most likely to be most affected by the new requirement are clubs de l’âge d’or, or other organizations which do not have their own insurance and have previously paid a flat fee to use rooms for unspecified times.

“It’s a sad state of where we are, but that’s where we are,” remarked Brière.

Scott also emphasized that the new liability insurance requirement only applies to new facility usage contracts, and not those already signed.

Stewart asked for the vote on the new policy to be registered. He voted against the liability insurance requirement for groups using recreational facilities while Councillors Alain Mainville, Danik Forgues, Daniel Boisvenue, and Marjorie Drolet voted in favour of adopting the resolution. Councillor Raymond Lalande was absent from the meeting.