River tubing mishap leads to $7,700 rescue bill

·3 min read

Editor's note: This story has been edited from a previous version.

Two Collingwood residents have requested that Grey Highlands council forgive a river rescue bill that exceeded $7,700.

Collingwood resident Randel Tanti attended council’s meeting on Sept. 7.

In an emotional presentation to council, Tanti said she and her friend were tubing on the Beaver River in July, when trouble struck and they were stuck on the river and unable to get out.

“This was an emergency. We waited as long as we could and tried everything we could before calling for emergency services. My thought process was that there was no way out for us. We were very scared, it was getting very cold,” said Tanti. “We had been in the water for hours with no food or water. The sun was going down and it was going to be much more difficult to find us in the dark. If we didn’t call we would be spending the entire night on the river or worse it would be a recovery call instead of a rescue. When you call 911 for a true emergency you don’t think you have to debate how much your safety is going to cost you.”

Tanti thanked all the emergency personnel who responded and helped.

“I would like to say how incredibly grateful we are to the fire and rescue team that pulled us out of the river. We do not take lightly the time, effort and cost that went into our rescue,” she said.

She requested council forgive the bill, which totalled $7,715.37. Tanti and her friend are each responsible for paying half the total.

Tanti said she works in the hospitality industry. She said the costs of the rescue would put tremendous strain on her finances.

“I hope you take into consideration that this is an incredibly large sum of money and paying this would be a near impossibility and the only means I can imagine would require us to go into considerable debt, adding more stress to an already difficult financial situation with the rising costs of living in Collingwood,” she said.

Fire Chief Marty Wellwood explained that the rescue took close to four hours.

“It was quite labour intensive to find them on the river, walk in and walk them back out,” said Wellwood.

Coun. Paul Allen asked for more information on the situation. Allen said without a staff report on the matter it was difficult for council to deliberate on the matter properly. He asked that the request be put on the agenda for council’s next meeting.

“This is all information that is suddenly dropped on us. We’re trying to make a decision. There are emotions involved. It would be better to think about it,” said Allen.

Council supported Allen’s request to have the issue brought to council’s meeting on September 21.

“This gives council an opportunity to think about this as it was brought to council today,” said Mayor Paul McQueen.

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca