On August 8, 2018, Paula Simons, a City Columnist with the Edmonton Journal, reported that the Heritage Festival, a staple at Hawrelak Park for more than 30 years, had been told to leave its "old brown barn" headquarters near the gates of the Park - within two weeks.
You can read the full article here. As reported by Simons,
According to the city, the site is unsafe because the barn is next to a city maintenance yard. Activities in the yard, I was told, require special training or protective equipment.
But the service yard has been there just as long as the barn. Nothing has changed. The site is no less safe than it’s been for the last three decades.
The city won’t tell me whether there’ve been any accidents or near-misses on the site, citing “privacy reasons.”
They’ll only say that their “awareness of safety has increased.”
It may seem like nothing has changed, but one very important thing has - and very recently. That being, the new OH&S Act that took effect on June 1, 2018.
Every owner shall:
(a) ensure, as far as it is reasonably practicable to do so, that the land, infrastructure and any building or premises on the land that is under the owner’s control is provided and maintained in a manner that does not endanger the health and safety of workers or any other person,
(b) cooperate with any person exercising a duty imposed by this Act, the regulations and the OHS code, and
(c) comply with this Act, the regulations and the OHS code.
Additionally, the new Act extends the obligation of "employers" (which the City clearly is) beyond just workers, and requires that employers now ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety, and welfare of "other persons at or in the vicinity of the work site who may be affected by hazards originating from the work site".
Operating together, those two new obligations mean that the City is now directly responsible for the health and safety of Heritage Festival volunteers, at least insofar as the use of the "old brown barn" and hazards emanating from the City maintenance yard next door are concerned.
The City's awareness of safety may have increased. But so have its legal obligations.