Hamilton councillors say no to rope rescue user fee for victims

News Jan 23, 2017 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

 Hamilton politicians will not establish a user fee for victims of rope rescues even though there have been a rising number of them over the last few years.

Fire Chief Dave Cunliffe told members of the emergency and community services committee on Jan. 23 that after studying the issue, there is a belief that a user fee would dissuade people from calling for help which could lead to severe injuries or even death.

“I’m concern a user fee (would be) a deterrent for people making a call,” he said.

From 2009 to 2016 the Hamilton Fire Department received a total of 104 rope rescue calls, with the largest number of calls occurring last year with 25. In 2015 there were 15 rope rescue calls, while in 2014 there were 18.

In 2009, the first year the city supplied the statistics, there were four rope rescue calls and 10 people rescued, with six from Hamilton.

Of the 104 rope rescues, about half involved five waterfall locations: Tews Falls, 11; Webster Falls, 10; Albion Falls, 17, Devils Punch Bowl, 10; and Felkers Falls, 3. The remaining rope rescues happened across the city such as along Mountain Brow, Kenilworth Stairs and Garth Stairs.

Among the 184 people rescued since 2009, about 75 per cent were from Hamilton.

Mountain Coun. Tom Jackson said he was “frustrated as anyone” with the increasing number of rope rescues. Last July, a man slipped and fell to his death while hiking with family members.

Jackson has seen the swelling crowds and families enjoying Albion Falls, especially after the financial investment the city has made into the area.

He agreed not to establish a user fee and would rather see more signs warning people about the safety risks of the area.

“I don’t want to reach a point of legislating behaviour,” he said.

Jackson said he will be holding a public meeting in the spring about the issue. He held a similar meeting last summer that included emergency responders, city parks, communications staff and conservation officials.

While politicians applauded the popularity of the city’s waterfalls, they expressed frustration at the number of rope rescues being done. Mountain Councillor Terry Whitehead said there were some people who “purposely put themselves at risk” at Chedoke Falls.

Signs are installed, a fence put in, yet some people managed to pry holes into the fence, he said.

Whitehead talked about establishing a surcharge for people who deliberately ignore safety precautions, but he agreed that education programs provided by the city would be the best move for now.

“We did everything we can around Chedoke (but) we are not getting the results,” he said.

City staff did consult with other fire services and found that Niagara Falls and St. Catharines did not have a user fee for a rope rescue.

The committee also approved a motion introduced by Ward 4 Coun. Sam Merulla to map the city’s trail system and the Niagara Escarpment to discover where the dangerous areas are located for waterfall viewing.

Politicians will vote on the recommendation at their Jan. 25 council meeting.

Hamilton councillors say no to rope rescue user fee for victims

News Jan 23, 2017 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

 Hamilton politicians will not establish a user fee for victims of rope rescues even though there have been a rising number of them over the last few years.

Fire Chief Dave Cunliffe told members of the emergency and community services committee on Jan. 23 that after studying the issue, there is a belief that a user fee would dissuade people from calling for help which could lead to severe injuries or even death.

“I’m concern a user fee (would be) a deterrent for people making a call,” he said.

From 2009 to 2016 the Hamilton Fire Department received a total of 104 rope rescue calls, with the largest number of calls occurring last year with 25. In 2015 there were 15 rope rescue calls, while in 2014 there were 18.

In 2009, the first year the city supplied the statistics, there were four rope rescue calls and 10 people rescued, with six from Hamilton.

Of the 104 rope rescues, about half involved five waterfall locations: Tews Falls, 11; Webster Falls, 10; Albion Falls, 17, Devils Punch Bowl, 10; and Felkers Falls, 3. The remaining rope rescues happened across the city such as along Mountain Brow, Kenilworth Stairs and Garth Stairs.

Among the 184 people rescued since 2009, about 75 per cent were from Hamilton.

Mountain Coun. Tom Jackson said he was “frustrated as anyone” with the increasing number of rope rescues. Last July, a man slipped and fell to his death while hiking with family members.

Jackson has seen the swelling crowds and families enjoying Albion Falls, especially after the financial investment the city has made into the area.

He agreed not to establish a user fee and would rather see more signs warning people about the safety risks of the area.

“I don’t want to reach a point of legislating behaviour,” he said.

Jackson said he will be holding a public meeting in the spring about the issue. He held a similar meeting last summer that included emergency responders, city parks, communications staff and conservation officials.

While politicians applauded the popularity of the city’s waterfalls, they expressed frustration at the number of rope rescues being done. Mountain Councillor Terry Whitehead said there were some people who “purposely put themselves at risk” at Chedoke Falls.

Signs are installed, a fence put in, yet some people managed to pry holes into the fence, he said.

Whitehead talked about establishing a surcharge for people who deliberately ignore safety precautions, but he agreed that education programs provided by the city would be the best move for now.

“We did everything we can around Chedoke (but) we are not getting the results,” he said.

City staff did consult with other fire services and found that Niagara Falls and St. Catharines did not have a user fee for a rope rescue.

The committee also approved a motion introduced by Ward 4 Coun. Sam Merulla to map the city’s trail system and the Niagara Escarpment to discover where the dangerous areas are located for waterfall viewing.

Politicians will vote on the recommendation at their Jan. 25 council meeting.

Hamilton councillors say no to rope rescue user fee for victims

News Jan 23, 2017 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

 Hamilton politicians will not establish a user fee for victims of rope rescues even though there have been a rising number of them over the last few years.

Fire Chief Dave Cunliffe told members of the emergency and community services committee on Jan. 23 that after studying the issue, there is a belief that a user fee would dissuade people from calling for help which could lead to severe injuries or even death.

“I’m concern a user fee (would be) a deterrent for people making a call,” he said.

From 2009 to 2016 the Hamilton Fire Department received a total of 104 rope rescue calls, with the largest number of calls occurring last year with 25. In 2015 there were 15 rope rescue calls, while in 2014 there were 18.

In 2009, the first year the city supplied the statistics, there were four rope rescue calls and 10 people rescued, with six from Hamilton.

Of the 104 rope rescues, about half involved five waterfall locations: Tews Falls, 11; Webster Falls, 10; Albion Falls, 17, Devils Punch Bowl, 10; and Felkers Falls, 3. The remaining rope rescues happened across the city such as along Mountain Brow, Kenilworth Stairs and Garth Stairs.

Among the 184 people rescued since 2009, about 75 per cent were from Hamilton.

Mountain Coun. Tom Jackson said he was “frustrated as anyone” with the increasing number of rope rescues. Last July, a man slipped and fell to his death while hiking with family members.

Jackson has seen the swelling crowds and families enjoying Albion Falls, especially after the financial investment the city has made into the area.

He agreed not to establish a user fee and would rather see more signs warning people about the safety risks of the area.

“I don’t want to reach a point of legislating behaviour,” he said.

Jackson said he will be holding a public meeting in the spring about the issue. He held a similar meeting last summer that included emergency responders, city parks, communications staff and conservation officials.

While politicians applauded the popularity of the city’s waterfalls, they expressed frustration at the number of rope rescues being done. Mountain Councillor Terry Whitehead said there were some people who “purposely put themselves at risk” at Chedoke Falls.

Signs are installed, a fence put in, yet some people managed to pry holes into the fence, he said.

Whitehead talked about establishing a surcharge for people who deliberately ignore safety precautions, but he agreed that education programs provided by the city would be the best move for now.

“We did everything we can around Chedoke (but) we are not getting the results,” he said.

City staff did consult with other fire services and found that Niagara Falls and St. Catharines did not have a user fee for a rope rescue.

The committee also approved a motion introduced by Ward 4 Coun. Sam Merulla to map the city’s trail system and the Niagara Escarpment to discover where the dangerous areas are located for waterfall viewing.

Politicians will vote on the recommendation at their Jan. 25 council meeting.