Port Alberni’s new city council passed a motion to authorize the mayor and city clerk to enter into Western Forest Products’ Canal Beach indemnity agreement.
The agreement will “indemnify [Western Forest Products] from any liability arising from public use of Canal Beach.”
The motion had been tabled during the Nov. 24 council meeting by the old city council pending further details regarding insurance costs associated with signing the indemnity agreement.
Coun. Jack McLeman said that he felt comfortable passing the motion because “this is the second or third draft of the indemnity agreement…and I don’t see anywhere in there that makes us more liable for Canal Beach than anything else we own.”
City manager Ken Watson said that with the clause inserted into the indemnity agreement it makes it clear that “if there are claims, WFP is to contact the city and we would undertake to have the claim settled jointly rather than having them do anything unilaterally.”
Coun. Denis Sauvé said that while last year he had issues with the water quality at the beach, reports from Island Health had since reassured him that the water was approved for swimming.
Sauvé also had concerns with the “hazards of the floor of the inlet” but that with Parks and Recreation department staff cleaning up the area, “everything’s looking great and I appreciate the parks and rec director Scott Kenny for all his work on that.”
Kenny detailed the current conditions at Canal Beach at the meeting. City staff conducted a safety audit of the site in mid-November.
“We went through the entire site,” said Kenny.
Water testing at the beach showed no water safety issues.
“There were no tests that resulted in any calls from VIHA to have us close the beach related to water quality,” said Kenny, adding that “water quality in our view is suitable for swimming.”
The city has added in safety amenities at the beach, including a reach pole and a life ring.
Kenny said that the biggest concern that WFP had was people swimming out to the log booms.
“We understand that and we’re really hopeful that with the lease of Lot A [and B] to the Port Authority and to Canadian Alberni Engineering that WFP have started to realign the boom pockets which will remove boom sticks [and log booms] that are in front of Canal Beach.”
Kenny hopes that removing the boom sticks and log booms will remove the attraction for swimmers to risk injury by trying to swim out to them.
Note: A previous version of this story printed in our Dec. 11, 2014 edition incorrectly stated that Lot A was leased to the Port Authority and Lot C to Canadian Alberni Engineering. In fact, Lot A and B are leased to the Port Authority who are in the process of leasing them out to Canadian Alberni Engineering and Lot C is Canal Beach.