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City Already Implementing Coroner’s Recommendations on Accidental Drowning

For immediate release: March 21, 2018 - 3:32pm
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The Office of the Chief Coroner today concluded the September 11, 2017 drowning death of five-year-old Ahmedsadiq Elmmi was accidental and no inquest will be held.

“First of all – as we did at the time of the incident – the City extends its heartfelt condolences to Ahmed Elmmi’s family, friends, teachers, and classmates,” says Angela Gardiner, Acting General Manager of Transportation & Utilities. “As a parent myself I can’t imagine what this family has had to deal with.”

The Coroner made three recommendations for the City:

  1. To assess the feasibility for water safety education within all Saskatoon communities, such as providing learning materials to residential areas with nearby water access.
  2. During community planning and development, and to optimize safety, the City of Saskatoon and the school boards should consider future placement of ponds and municipal structures, so that such structures and ponds are located away from schools, playgrounds and areas where children are known to play.
  3. Assess the need for additional barriers and modifications to ponds and their surrounding area where the location of such structures is within proximity to schools and areas known to be occupied by children.

To assess the feasibility for water safety education within all Saskatoon communities, such as providing learning materials to residential areas with nearby water access.

“We would agree with the Coroner’s recommendation here,” Gardiner says. “The Fire Department routinely offers public education on safety near the river or ponds, and has reached out to the School Divisions to offer such a program in schools.”

Gardiner says the City presented its proposed recommendations for storm water retention ponds to the community which include an educational component for schools and community associations as well as easy to understand signage around all storm water retention ponds.

During community planning and development, and to optimize safety, the City of Saskatoon and the school boards should consider future placement of ponds and municipal structures, so that such structures and ponds are located away from schools, playgrounds and areas where children are known to play.

Gardiner highlights this is already under discussion with the community and outlines the proposed recommendations:

  1. In new neighbourhoods, storm ponds should be located a safe distance from schools, unless separated by a barrier or other risk mitigating factors are in place.   Barriers could be in the form of roads or residential/commercial developments. 
  2. If safety risks cannot be mitigated through location and other design options, we would assess fencing as a barrier on a case-by-case basis.
  3. Finally, for Dundonald Park, a partial 1.2 m high wrought-iron fence on the school side of the park pathway is recommended.

Assess the need for additional barriers and modifications to ponds and their surrounding area where the location of such structures is within proximity to schools and areas known to be occupied by children.

Gardiner says this is also being addressed with the proposed recommendations shared with the community.

"A partial fence to provide separation between school activities and the public’s activities in the park and the pond is being proposed”, she says. “However, no matter the infrastructure in place, School officials have pointed out in the past that one of the best educational strategies is for parents to be talking to their children about safety whether it be around any ponds, the river, roads, or even railroad tracks that run through the city.”

The City will have a closer look at the report from the Public School Division also being released today and work with all school officials on any recommendations

Gardiner says she’s also expecting a report from the Children’s Advocate which will be carefully considered by the City Administration.

The proposed recommendations under development will be presented first to the Standing Policy Committee on Environment, Utilities and Corporate Services April 16 then to City Council for approval.