You may all recall the Great Bouncy Castle Heist of 2015. The Beechwood Market’s commercial sized, 400lbs, bouncy castle was stolen right off the Market site part way through the summer season. Although the bouncy castle was never recovered, perhaps condemned to a life of private parties for the most rambunctious of children, the saga did not stop there.
The Beechwood Market moved over to the soon-to-be, Marche St Charles at 135 Barrette St at the end of the 2015 season. The bouncy castle was replaced with a smaller version for our Winter Edition - four Saturdays in January & February. The bouncy castle had found the perfect venue in which to make its triumphant return as the main attraction.
Fourty five minutes after the 10AM opening on January 23, I was approached by a fellow not much older than myself. He introduced himself as a local parent, happy customer and TSSA safety officer. The acronym floating by me, I focused on the words safety and officer. Never a good combo for an event organizer, he quietly informed me that I needed a special permit to have our 10x10 pillow in a public venue. Totally blind-sided, I soon found myself deflating our main attraction to no fewer than a dozen young, disappointed faces. He later padded his ambush by saying that he did not want to make a scene by returning home to get his badge and uniform, but that he wouldn't be doing his job if he had left without enforcing the law.
You may be asking yourself a question posed by my own father that day - how did you know he was for real if he produced no ID or donned no uniform? For the answer I defer to the logic of Sean Connery's character upon first meeting Elliott Ness (Kevin Costner) on the Bridge in The Untouchables - who would claim to be a TSSA safety officer who was not?
Upon closing, I rushed home to research this outfit he claimed to represent. It was indeed legit. In fact, it turned out it was a pretty big deal in the regulation of Ontario elevators, electricians, boilers, ski lifts and amusement parks. I noticed an option to contact their ombudsman. A quick read of her role confirmed that she and her staff were an unbiased third party in existence to help those exploring the vast mandate of the TSSA. I wrote an email explaining the situation, my genuine ignorance of the rules and asking for advice on next steps. Instead of a response from the ombudsman’s office, I was surprised to receive a phone call from our newest TSSA Market patron (he never returned) (fairly sure he never bought anything). It seems the ombudsman felt the need to step out of her unbiased role for a short stint to call the lead investigator for Ontario. As a result, our Market friend was forced to make a report (which he had kindly foregone) and place me on their official watch list. I wondered who else might be on this list - negligent ferris wheel operators, elevator saboteurs, electricians gone wild.
Upon looking further into the permit required, it went well beyond any weekend course. Required were up to 500 hours of apprenticeship, $800 in fees and paperwork equal to half a tree. Despite my childhood dream of joining the circus, the time commitment alone was enough to write off any hope of becoming an Amusement Park Operator. Yes, in order to operate the bouncy castle, I would indeed have to obtain the same license as the fellow that manages the Capital Fair, Top Gun Roller Coaster or Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.
Without rules there is chaos. The Ontario Government is looking out for us. Sincerely appreciative of safety regulations and protocols, I find this particular sub-section very inflexible and prohibitive.
So, what the thieves could not finish, the bureaucrats have. The Beechwood Bouncy Castle has met its match and will not be with us this season. Equally as fun, this summer the wee ones can expect arts and crafts, various games and John Deere Trikes. Helmets provided.
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