New petition aims to lower insurance requirements for local events

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Amanda Burger poses for a photo at last year’s Garden Party Market

A petition currently circulating online regarding the Township’s insurance policy for event vendors aims to ask some tough questions about why the required insurance level is so high. The petition was started by Winchester resident Kelly Windle, a business owner who also organizes events such as the Garden Party Market. 

“I am not looking for any special treatment, just to understand the current policy they have circulated,” Kelly told the Times. “The Garden Party Market is a for-profit event, so there will be different expectations for my event and I accept that.”

Kelly wants a chance to formally ask Council, in session, to lower the insurance requirement for event organizers and vendors to what she calls the “industry standard” of $2 million liability. Her upcoming event – the Garden Party Market in July – typically draws a crowd of about 1,500 people annually. It has seen annual growth over the last three years, and Kelly doesn’t want it to “die” now. 

“If the current insurance requirements stand, I will have to cancel this annual event,” said Kelly. “I also have vendors that will not participate due to the increased insurance costs, and I cannot adjust my vendors fees as those fees cover the bands, porta potties, advertisements and more.” Kelly wonders why it’s necessary for both hosts and vendors to have the insurance. “My question to the Council is that if the host (me) acquires the $5 million Special Event Policy, why is it that the vendors participating in my event are required the $5 million as well?” 

Kelly is proud to say that the organizers and volunteers of events such as Dairyfest and the Parade of lights have successfully won the Township’s support in getting “blanket” coverage for these events (consistent with past years), and exempting bands from needing separate insurance, which would have risked pricing live entertainment out of North Dundas. 

One point that Kelly is emphasizing strongly is that $2 million liability insurance appears to be the industry standard. She points to other places – such as South Dundas, Kemptville, Cornwall and Ottawa – that require vendors to have only $2 million of liability insurance, leaving her to question why North Dundas businesses and events owners are hit with the $5 million requirement. 

“Maybe it is a lost cause, but I have to try and be hopeful that the Council and Township will see that the Market is a draw not only for my business, but for the vendors involved, the other businesses located downtown Winchester, and for tourism,” added Kelly. “I would like to see the Market continue to grow and prosper in this community, and I also hope that the Council and Township will consider all local events like Winchester Open Mic Cafe when creating a policy.”

The petition can be found at https://www.change.org/p/support-local-events-north-dundas. Kelly is optimistic that if we work together, positive change can happen. “I started the petition to raise awareness and reach more people in the community to rally with me to support not only my event, but the many events this policy affects, and will affect. I do not want to see our events priced out of the Township.”

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