By Sue Tiffin
The following are brief reports of items discussed during a June 9 regular meeting of Highlands East council which was held remotely and broadcast online.
Highlands East has a new fireworks bylaw restricting the use of fireworks to specific times around holiday celebrations only.
Those holidays are New Year’s Eve between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m. the following day and the following holidays between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on the weekend preceding and including the statutory holiday: Victoria Day Civic Holiday Labour Day and Canada Day between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. the weekend prior to Canada Day the weekend directly following Canada Day or on July 1. Flying lanterns are not allowed at any time. Community events using consumer fireworks that take place out of the permitted times must be granted special permission by council.
The issue of fireworks use has long been a challenge for councillors some who told acting fire chief Chris Baughman when he brought the concern to council on Sept. 10 last year that residents had contacted them with environmental and noise concerns numerous times over the years.
The municipality’s Emergency Operations Control Group continues to meet electronically once a week.
“Office staff and department employees are back at work and practicing physical distancing or wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when distancing is not possible” reads a report from Baughman. “Preparations are taking place in order to open the municipal offices to the public (barriers signage to encourage physical distancing and pre-screening before entering). Programming will be introduced as we are advised it is safe to do so with the appropriate safety precautions in place.”
For the second year in a row the municipality is facing another substantial increase in insurance costs for the upcoming year.
A 2020 insurance renewal report from Brittany McCaw deputy CAO/treasurer says the municipality will see an overall increase in insurance costs of 28.68 per cent over last year’s premium amount.
“While the increase for our current renewal is not as high as our previous renewal (47 per cent) for 2021 we continue to see another volatile insurance market” said McCaw in her report. “After discussions with BFL Canada 2019 saw the hardening of the market with insurers withdrawing from certain classes of business increasing premiums/deductibles and placing limits/restrictions on coverage to mitigate their exposure. 2020 continued the same trend of hard market terms and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. It is too early in the pandemic to determine what the potential impact of COVID-19 will have on the insurance market. Lloyd’s of London’s initial estimates state that Lloyd’s share of the COVID-19 losses will be in the range of $6 billion CDN with an overall cost of over $100 billion to the global property and casualty insurance industry. BFL has worked hard on the municipality’s behalf to ensure we receive a fair renewal for 2020/2021 but unfortunately these are the results of a challenging insurance market.”
Last year the insurance renewal through BFL Canada came at a cost of $226644 plus applicable taxes an overall increase of 47 per cent over the previous year’s premium amount of $159184. McCaw said at that time the increase was due to a “significant claim pay out in 2019” and was an increase that was “much larger than was originally anticipated.”
At that time staff had planned to go to market with a new proposal for the 2020 year but McCaw’s report this month said that due to time constraints relating to the COVID-19 pandemic “this did not take place.” Staff will prepare RFP documents at the end of this year to go to market in early 2021 according to McCaw.
BFL Canada has provided insurance coverage to the municipality since 2010.
The municipality’s Waste Wizard app a waste management information tool was launched on the municipal website on April 30.
“The municipality is in need of a tool that will assist with a desired increase in diversion and reduction in contamination by providing residents with informative up-to-date waste information” said Stewart Hurd environmental supervisor in July last year. For more information visit http://www.highlandseast.ca.