CBRM tightens parade safety rules, draws ire of some officials

Several councillors and the mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality say council may have gone too far in adopting a new set of rules aimed at making parades safer.

CBRM staff recommended council adopt new rules after two incidents at local parades over the past two years and following the death of a child in a Yarmouth, N.S., parade last year.

Council unanimously agreed to limit parades to a maximum of four kilometres and to tighten the rules on things such as the number of volunteers required and banning parade entrants from throwing objects like candy from floats.

A move to ban nighttime parades also passed, but not without opposition.

Coun. Earlene MacMullin voted against that recommendation from recreation staff and the police.

"Our insurance will still cover us," she said.

Decision made too quickly

"We have all these extra [safety rules] in place and I thought it was too quick of a step to just decide in a 15-minute conversation that we would no longer do something that communities have done for decades."

Mayor Cecil Clarke also voted against the motion.

"I think if you're going to start talking about banning parades at nighttime, you need to have more consultation," he said.

Clarke said Halifax's Parade of Lights event is held at night and it attracts tens of thousands of parade watchers.

The mayor also said there's risk in many recreational pursuits, but the municipality's job is to mitigate them without just saying no.

Residents of the financially strapped CBRM need to have some fun, said Clarke.

"Parades are about celebration and in an area ... that is stressed a lot of the time, stopping and celebrating is a good thing too, even if that's at night," he said.

Tom Ayers/CBC

Staff also suggested banning community parades and only approving the annual Pride parade and one regional Santa Claus parade.

Councillors from outside Sydney strongly objected to that idea, though.

Coun. Darren Bruckschwaiger said he's no expert and would defer to the police force's judgment on daytime-only parades being safer.

'The wrath of people'

However, he said holding only two regional parades a year will not fly with residents.

"I'll never support no parade in the community of Dominion," said Bruckschwaiger.

"There's where you'll get the wrath of people upset, I'll tell you that."

Council also discussed whether to eliminate community parades and only hold two regional parades a year.

Coun. Kendra Coombes said children and seniors in the New Waterford area would be unlikely to attend a regional parade elsewhere or to watch it being live streamed.

She said some people have mobility issues and transit is improving, but it's still insufficient to make travel to another community possible for something like a parade.

The recommendation to eliminate community parades and hold two regional parades a year will come back to council's general committee meeting next month.