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Oshawa says it’s committed to reopening waterfront pier

The pier is currently closed due to insurance liability concerns that arose following an incident last year when part of the pier rail was ripped out.

May 3, 2018
Reeka Szkeley

Oshawa city staff say both the city and the Oshawa Port Authority are committed to keeping the waterfront pier open to the public.

For now, the pier remains closed as the two sides discuss insurance and liability issues related to the pier located adjacent to Lakeview Park and the Oshawa harbour.

Paul Ralph, Oshawa’s commissioner of development services, said city officials met with the Port Authority on Tuesday.

At issue is a 1986 agreement between the two sides that allows for public use of the pier.

“What it says now is that the city must carry $1-million coverage and names the authority as co-insured or additionally insured,” Ralph said. “As you can appreciate, $1 million back in the 1980s was plenty of money, but it may not be adequate under today’s standards.”

Oshawa’s finance staff are looking into whether the city currently has insurance provisions for the pier.

Ralph said both the port authority and the city want the pier to be open to the public.

“Today, the port authority and ourselves made a commitment to look at ways to make the pier open to the public, that’s both our objective,” he said.

The insurance discussions follow an incident last year when part of the pier rail was ripped out. At the time, there were several people on the pier.

The incident occurred when a tugboat was bringing a ship into the harbour. The ship was forced to release the line between the ship and the tugboat as the tug was too close to the pier, and when the line was released it snapped, hitting the pier railing and damaging it.

On March 26, the port authority notified the city via a confidential letter that the port’s insurance broker had recommended that public access to the pier be eliminated due to the incident.

“The port authority is working with the city to review what needs to be done and what it would cost to continue to make the pier available to the public in light of the incident last year that took out a portion of the railing,” Port Authority CEO Donna Taylor wrote in an email last week. “There are safety and liability concerns, but both parties recognize this is of great public interest and a vital part of our waterfront.”

At council on Monday, councillors stressed the importance of public access to the pier.

“To absolutely prevent the citizens of Oshawa from basically going out to the water, to enjoy the view ... I think it’s a detriment to the citizenry,” Coun. Rick Kerr said.

Coun. Gail Bates asked about insurance options that would allow the city to cover liability on the pier.

City staff committed to reporting back to council, as discussions with the port authority are ongoing.