The Newfoundland and Labrador government's decision to stop inspecting floats in the St. John's Santa Claus parade has nothing to do with cost but everything to do with safety.
That's according to Service NL Minister Dan Crummell.
Crummell has been criticized for the decision to stop inspecting the hitches on floats in the province's biggest Christmas parade.
The minister had earlier cited overtime costs as part of the reason for ending the practice of having provincial enforcement officers do the inspections.
But on CBC's St. John's Morning Show Thursday, Crummell told host Anthony Germain it's all about safety.
"These officers did work overtime, but cost had absolutely nothing to do with the discontinuance of service," Crummell said. "In fact, it was the concerns brought to us by the officers themselves that led to the decision."
The minister said participants in the parade may have been under the impression that all aspects of floats were included in the inspections, when it was only the hitches on the floats that were being looked at by the province.
In the interest of fairness
"It was a couple of officers working for a couple of hours inspecting the hitches, but that's all they were doing," Crummell said.
"It was one of these situations where the enforcement officers came to us and said, 'you know what, we think there's a false sense of security here.' And certainly, security is everybody's responsibility, safety is everybody's responsibility, and so they said that perhaps we're giving that false sense of security."
But a spokesperson for the St. John's Santa Claus parade takes issue with that.
Gaylynne Lambert doesn't believe there was ever a false sense of security among participants or anyone else involved with the parade.
"We do have our own set of safety rules and regulations and we do have a team on the parking lot that does look at other issues," said Lambert, marketing and special events co-ordinator with the Downtown Development Commission.
"We have the authority and we would take that float out of the parade if it doesn't meet our criteria."
Crummell, meanwhile, noted the St. John's parade was the only one having the hitch inspections carried out.
"So we said perhaps now would be a good time to step away and say we can't do this throughout the province. So (the decision was made) in a sense of fairness, and making sure people who are organizing and operating these floats take the full responsibility for what they're doing," he said.
"The bottom line is when you've got a float and a trailer and a truck in a parade, there's all kinds of facets that come around safety concerns, and our inspectors were only looking at the hitch apparatus."
Crummell said it will now be up to the organizers of the St. John's parade — the Downtown Development Commission (DDC) — to find people to carry out hitch and trailer inspections.
Lambert has since made a public appeal for qualified inspectors to offer up their services for the Nov. 24 parade in St. John's.
She reiterated that the DDC already has a long list of safety checks it conducts for the parade, and they'll just have to add trailer-hitch inspections to that list.