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‚ÄčKincardine agrees to set up ad hoc committee to examine safety at the piers

September 18, 2023

Kincardine council has agreed to establish an ad hoc committee to seek recommendations for safety at the north and south piers at Kincardine Harbour.

A report from community services director Jayne Jagelewski came to council at its meeting Wednesday night (Sept. 13), noting that the piers have been associated with summer enjoyment but, at times, hazardous conditions that raise serious safety concerns.

Aug. 12, a 66-year-old man from the Waterloo Region drowned after jumping off the pier. This tragic event prompted staff to recommend that council approve an ad hoc committee of key stakeholders and subject experts to provide recommendations for safety improvements, said Jagelewski.

She said the mandate of the committee will be to provide council with practical recommendations in reducing the hazards associated with usage of the north and south piers. The committee will be comprised of one council member who will be the chairperson, along with a representative from Kincardine Fire and Emergency Services, Bruce County Paramedics, the OPP, marina staff, Kincardine Business Improvement Area (BIA), Smart Beach program, and two members at large.

Jagelewski noted that since 2016, Kincardine Fire and Emergency Services have attended 15 calls involving water emergencies. For various circumstances, four of these calls were fatalities.

She said the south pier was closed following the drowning Aug. 12, and has remained closed. Aug. 18, due to extraordinary winds, and in discussions with the fire chief, both piers were closed. The piers were to re-open Friday, Sept. 15.

The ad hoc committee would commence Oct. 1, and conclude Feb. 1, 2024, said Jagelewski, with a report to council on conclusions and recommendations. If for some reason the committee believes additional time is required to complete the required objectives, then staff may request, through council, an extension of the term.

Councillor Beth Blackwell asked if the terms of reference include the “No Swimming” section adjacent to the piers.

Jagelewski said 100 metres around the existing piers can be part of the process.

Councillor Rory Cavanagh asked if Station Beach and the beach at Macpherson Park are also included.

Jagelewski said the focus will be on the piers, themselves, with the Smart Beach program focusing on the beaches. She said Smart Beach is currently in the second year of a three-year study, and a member of that program will be part of the ad hoc committee.

Blackwell asked if such things as new ladders on the piers and improved signage could be added now, rather than waiting until February.

“My recommendation is to wait until the final report to council,” said Jagelewski. “Let the ad hoc committee do the research; for example, what is the right kind of ladder to install at the piers? Otherwise, it could be detrimental to the process.”

Blackwell argued that the ladders are insufficient for anyone right now, including Kincardine’s own first-responders. “I struggle with waiting if there is a solution that can be found earlier than next February for people using the beach.”

Councillor Mike Hinchberger said the tragedy associated with the piers is a terrible situation that has to stop happening. However, there could be a tendency for the committee to rush with a solution.

“They need to identify the causes of each incident, go through the process and look at the big picture,” he said. “There could be some interim items, but we need the overall recommendations.”

Council approved the motion, agreeing to establish the ad hoc committee for the purpose of seeking recommendations for pier safety at Kincardine Harbour.

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