Santa Claus Parade Insurance Liability Limits

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The Santa Claus Parade returns to Elliot Lake with restrictions. Santa Claus will be able to ride on an allegorical float, but not his elves.

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Recreation and Culture Director Kallynn Kluke said the parade is scheduled for Nov. 25, followed by a tree lighting ceremony.

She told council that the city’s liability insurance will impact parade attendance. Adults can, but are not encouraged to, ride on trailers and absolutely no children. Children will only be able to walk next to the floats.

The parade route was also changed to avoid the freeway and major intersections. It will start at the Scotiabank parking lot and end at City Hall.

This year’s theme is Christmas movies, and Kluke hopes to involve singers and other community groups in the event.

“Insurance kills all the fun in this town,” Mayor Dan Marchisella said.

He noted that even the summer parade was impacted.

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“We had very little turnout due to liability insurance and all the user groups having to need their own insurance.”

The mayor said he had car insurance so he could drive his car.

“I’m sure my insurance company would like me to leave my car in the driveway because there’s less risk. I feel like we’re in the same situation here where our insurance is good at taking a million dollars a year, but keeps telling us to do nothing.

Marchisella asked if parade attendees could sign a waiver, but was told that would not be enough.

General manager Daniel Gagnon said staff were also upset.

“It’s the insurance industry and we’re all stuck with it.”

He said if an eight-year-old fell off a trailer, the city could be sued and insurance rates would definitely go up. Gagnon added that Blind River does not organize a parade, but leaves it up to community groups.

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Councilwoman Sandy Finamore suggested the city return to a static parade that has taken place during the pandemic. She said there was a higher risk of children being injured by walking beside a moving vehicle.

Councilor Ed Pearce said the parade is one of the highlights of the year.

“It seems to me that we make bad decisions…because someone in an insurance office thinks they can intimidate us. I really strongly object to that.

“I don’t understand why we can’t have a parade with proper floats, with people on the floats, with kids maybe in it,” he said.

The councilor recalled the fun he had one year participating in the parade and throwing candy to the crowd.

“I guess we can’t throw candy either. We could hit someone. I find that ridiculous.”

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Councilor Tom Turner described parades as the social fabric of a community and a great contributor to its well-being.

“I think we should spend a little more time researching ways to successfully provide decent entertainment to community members without putting ourselves at serious financial risk or risking harm to anyone. None of us want to see that happen.

Councilor Chris Patrie said an insurance company cannot tell the city what to do, only recommend best practices.

“If an insurance agent tells us we can’t have kids on the float, give it to us where it says in the policy,” he said.

Homeland suggested that if adults are allowed on trailers, leave children with adults and put sides on trailers. “There is protection there.”

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If the city listens to the insurance company, Homeland said, “You’re going to end up without a parade.”

Councilor Luc Cyr described insurance companies as “out of control”.

“Councils must come together to pressure our higher levels of government to limit this power that insurance companies muster,” he said.

“Something has to change,” Cyr said. “Insurance companies are bankrupting us. It’s time we started fighting back.

In other council news:

The October 24 council meeting will be canceled due to the municipal elections to be held on that date. The next regular meeting will take place on November 14.

File photoElliot Lake Coumcillor Sandy Finamore
File photoElliot Lake Coumcillor Sandy Finamore

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