Citing high risk and insurance restrictions, the Town of Huntsville will no longer allow inflatable amusements like bouncy castles and slides on its properties. The decision affects both public and private events hosted on municipal lands, whether by the Town or by clients renting the property.
The Town’s insurer, BFL Canada, told Town staff in 2018 that they would no longer insure inflatable amusements. The Town continued to allow the use of bouncy castles and similar structures provided that their clients could provide proof of adequate insurance.
But according to a staff report presented at the October Community Services Committee meeting, “…it has become increasingly difficult for clients to obtain insurance and provide the Town all the required documentation in order to be approved to have an inflatable amusement at their event and ensure the Town is not liable.”
Greg Pilling, the Town’s Manager of Sales and Customer Service said that risk of having the structures on Town property is too high. He gave as an example an event this summer where a bouncy castle was left unattended and unsupervised by event organizers and it began to deflate while kids were jumping inside. “With staff not being on site to be able to monitor all events that are taking place in our facilities, it puts us at a great risk of liability for that just because they’re on our property,” he said.
Councillor Tim Withey, who is also an insurance broker, said that he’s not surprised by the recommendation.
“I think they’re dangerous as anything. It’s unbelievable that they even exist,” he said. “This is the reality of these things, people are really getting hurt on them and the market’s closing down on this kind of stuff.”
Available data on injuries is limited and outdated. A 2010 study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated that there were 11,311 incidents in that country. A 2013 study that looked at data in the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP) between 1990 and 2009 identified 674 cases in Canada. Children aged two to nine years were the most frequently injured, with fractures comprising 34.5 per cent of all injuries.
The move doesn’t affect the use of inflatables on private property, nor does it impact the Town’s use of a Wibit—an inflatable climber and slide—in the Centennial Pool.
“Our insurance company is aware that we do have the Wibit and we are insured for that,.” said Julia McKenzie, the Town’s Manager of Finance/Treasurer. “One of the significant differences is that our staff have the care and control of that at all times.”
Don’t miss out on Doppler!
Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!