Waivers driving off volunteers in Three Rivers

A group in Cardigan was ready to flood and shovel an outdoor rink. (Don Pittis/CBC - image credit)
A group in Cardigan was ready to flood and shovel an outdoor rink. (Don Pittis/CBC - image credit)

An eastern P.E.I. man who tried to organize volunteers for an outdoor rink in Cardigan last winter says the group decided it could not sign a waiver required by Three Rivers.

Three Rivers Mayor Ed MacAulay said a shortage of volunteers was an issue in getting outdoor rinks going. Ben Riley said he had a group of 23 volunteers ready to create and maintain a rink in Cardigan.

"Willing to put in the work of shovelling and scraping and flooding the rink, but we came to some hiccups there," said Riley.

The town's waiver required volunteers to absolve the town of any liability in connection with their volunteer work.

"Just basically waiving any rights to lawsuit and looking for compensation from the town of any sort," said Riley.

"If I fell down and cracked my head open and couldn't work due to concussion or worse, there would be absolutely no way for me to get compensation."

Situations different, says town

They complained to the town as a group, he said, and the town came back to them with three versions of the waiver, but the offending clause always remained.

Volunteers in Charlottetown and Summerside require criminal record checks, something Riley said the Cardigan volunteers were willing to do, but the cities do not require liability waivers.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, Three Rivers CAO Jill Walsh said the situations aren't really comparable.

"In other municipalities, volunteers sit around a table and participate in advisory roles. Three Rivers was looking to put volunteers in a more hands-on, action-oriented role," Walsh wrote.

"We recognized a need to protect taxpayers from unnecessary exposure."

Eventually, the group just decided to go ahead and make a rink without the support of the town. Because of the delays, however, Riley said the rink was only good for one day of skating before the weather turned.