The local municipality will not forgive the hiking rescue bill

The $1,700 bill for each of the three hikers has been reduced to $930 each payable over nine months

The Blue Mountains council will not forgive a bill three hikers received earlier this year after getting stranded at Metcalfe Rock.

At its September 27 Committee of the Whole meeting, the board received a follow-up report from General Manager Shawn Everitt about the hiking accident. In April, three young hikers became stranded at Metcalfe Rock, a remote hiking trail in the Blue Mountains, and eventually had to be rescued by emergency personnel.

After the rescue, the hikers were billed over $5,000 ($1,700 each) for the rescue operation. The city‘s fire chief then reduced the amount owed by each hiker to $930.

Hikers, Taya Eisses, Jenna Veenstra and Mary Grace Kloosterman, attended the August 29 council meeting and asked that the bill be pardoned by the city.

In his report, Everitt confirmed the details of the incident. The CAO said the hikers got stuck on a ledge and firefighters needed a 24ft ladder to get them down. The hiking trail they were on is owned by the provincial government and not municipal land. The hikers were not on the marked section of the property when they were rescued. Signage at the parking lot advises users to stay on established trails when hiking.

“It was definitely a rescue, there was no other way,” Everitt said. “They were lucky, I stress lucky, that they found a ledge. There was no ascent or descent. »

The CEO noted that prior to the report being presented to the full Committee, he had contacted those affected to inform them that the report was being presented to Council. He said the city hasn’t heard from them.

Council members weren’t interested in reducing the $930 each hiker owes the city for rescue costs, but supported giving hikers enough time to pay the bill.

Mayor Alar Soever suggested a nine-month payment plan.

“It’s a very serious thing. When I look at where they were, they’re extremely lucky to just pay cash,” Soever said. “There’s a price to pay and there should be an experience learning here.”

The city also plans to correspond with the provincial government to include additional signage with stronger warnings about the dangers of leaving established trails on the property.

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