Planning for Canada 150

08 February 2017

During 2017, communities across Canada will be participating in Canada’s 150th birthday by hosting exciting and unique events. While these events are thrilling for all those involved, your municipality should be aware of the exposures associated with planning and executing special events, regardless of whether they are being sponsored by you or a third party. Special events often require the use of multiple municipal resources including staff time and expertise, property and equipment. These events may draw upon municipal resources – like Emergency Personnel (Fire, Police and/or Paramedics/Ambulatory). Additionally, with many travel sites leveraging Canada 150 events to position the country as a top travel destination, the number of attendees at these celebratory events may be greater than anticipated. That is why during a marquee year like this one, it’s especially important to review and update your existing insurance policy to ensure its limits are sufficient.

As a first step, take some time early in the year to map out the special events being planned and executed both by your municipality and by third parties. Define who is responsible for executing the event in order to assign clear responsibilities. Ask yourself: is it my municipality, a committee or a council hosting the event? Is it an organization that is loosely tied to my municipality in some capacity? Or is it an organization that operates independently of my municipality? If your municipality does not have clear and unchallenged authority over the event, then you should not be insuring the event. The entity that has complete control over the event is responsible for insuring the event. 

However, if your municipality is using internal resources to plan and execute an event, you are then responsible for insuring the event. If you choose to insure the event under your existing liability policy, you need to consider the effect that a claim would have on your overall program and your deductible, and the risks that these special events pose. They include, but are not limited to: financial loss, reputational risk, bodily injury to attendees due to slips, trips and falls, food poisoning, or injury from a third-party vendor. After reviewing the event and the risks it presents, you may choose to transfer the risk by purchasing a Special Event Policy. These policies typically have lower deductibles and will respond first in the event of a claim, thereby protecting the municipal program. A third-party event coordinator can also purchase this type of policy for the event. 

It is critical that you also identify how the Canada 150 celebrations will affect your overall Special Events portfolio. For example, consider whether your municipality entered into any contractual special event relationships leading up to 2017. If so, review them to ensure that your municipality is protected through indemnification and insurance requirements verbiage. Mutual indemnification is recommended along with a minimum of $2,000,000 CAD in Commercial General Liability policy which adds the municipality as an additional insured. It is also important that the contract clearly outlines the responsibilities of each party. After reading the contract, you should be able to answer the question: who is responsible for what?

Risk Management Considerations
Once you have reviewed and updated your insurance or purchased a Special Events Policy and mapped out your events, it is recommended that you create a risk management plan for the events. Planning early and often are key components of any successful risk management program. These plans should include details on how to deal with potentially dangerous conditions and emergency planning. They should also identify a health and safety coordinator for the event.

As a best practice, you should connect with the event coordinator/committee during the pre-planning stages to develop the risk management plan, but remember that it’s never too late to get involved and lend your expertise. It is also important that you involve key municipal partners, such as the Fire and Police departments, building and planning, parks and recreation and roads/works.

For both indoor and outdoor events, it is also recommended that you inspect the premises in the days leading up to the event and after the event as part of your risk management plan. These inspections should be well-documented and if there are issues identified, there should be clear documentation showing how these deficiencies were corrected and when they were corrected. In these inspections, make sure to include the land around the venue, any walkways, the parking lot and any bathroom facilities that will be used the day of the event. The backbone of any good risk management program is solid documentation. Any and all documentation related to the special event should be clear, concise and archived properly.

Additional risk management best practices include the following: 

  • Vendor management – Certificate of Insurance from all vendors and service providers should be collected and reviewed to ensure that the insurance listed is adequate and that the municipality/event organizer is listed as an additional insured. 
  • Volunteer management – Ensure your volunteers have been trained properly, are clear on their roles and responsibilities and are clearly identifiable to event participants. 
  • Create a reliable communication system for the event 
  • Special arrangements – Have a system in place to manage lost children, lost property, noise control and parking. Ensure you have enough parking spots or an easily executable management plan if you do not. 
  • Events on roadways – Roadway events require specific permits that must be secured in advance. Ensure the local emergency services are aware of the road closure. Work with them leading up to the event and on the event day to make sure the road closure has been properly signed and advertised. 

Canada is globally known as one of the best countries in which to live, play and work. The celebrations for Canada’s 150th birthday represent an opportunity to showcase our amazing country and to give thanks and appreciate all that we are blessed with. The hard work that goes into these events does not go unrecognized. 

Amidst the celebrations, however, you must remember that each event can have a wide range of exposures. Any potential risk should be addressed, whether it could occur during set-up, teardown or during the event, as it could lead to a potential loss of revenue and financial damage from costly litigation. By working closely with a risk manager prior to your event, you can gain a clear understanding of what risks you may face and find the right solutions. 

JLT Canada is here to support you in all municipal operations. If you require any assistance in the planning and risk review of your 150th celebrations, please don’t hesitate to contact us at