The Canada Games Centre will open its doors again in June, but just when in June that will happen is not known.
The City of Whitehorse announced May 25 that the territory’s chief medical officer of health has approved the city’s reopening plan.
The rec centre has been shut due to COVID-19, based on a recommendation of the chief medical officer of health.
The plan will take a three-phase approach to reopening beginning with the track, wellness centre and hard-surfaced flexihall with fitness classes also set to resume, including some outdoor classes. Those coming to the CGC when it reopens should arrive in their workout clothes as the change rooms will be shut.
The opening of the facility’s aquatic centre and ice surfaces will be in the final phases of the plan.
Krista Mroz, the city’s manager of recreation and facility services, stated in a May 26 email the plan is expected to be posted to the city’s website on May 27.
“Each phase increases the volume of patrons in the facility and allows for time at each phase to educate, monitor, and adjust before moving on to the next phase,” Mroz said. “As long as no new cases emerge and we can continue to align with the direction of the CMOH, we’ll be able to expand our service areas. We’ll work with local health authorities as we open up future phases.”
While officials said the first phase of the reopening would happen in June, it was also noted “no specific date has yet been determined.”
Mroz noted that once some details are finalized, a more precise date will be announced.
In a May 25 interview, city manager Linda Rapp explained that while the plan has been approved, it is a high level document and work needs to be done on getting everything in place to meet the requirements of the plan.
“It is exciting,” she said of reopening, adding though that it doesn’t mean everything is in place to open the doors to the public just yet.
Work like getting signage in place, looking at how to address traffic and occupancy limits, staff reorientation around new procedures, and ensuring materials needed are in place (PPE for staff, Plexiglas dividers, hand sanitizer dispensers and more) will take some time, making it difficult to set a more precise date, Rapp said.
As Valerie Braga, the city’s director of corporate services, noted, dispensers for hand sanitizer are on back order and it could take some time to get those and other materials that will be needed.
The territory’s public health measures for phase one of the reopening of indoor public recreation centres and libraries states that ” restrictions may be eased based on public health assessment. Strict infection prevention and control measures and an operating plan will be required.”
Meanwhile, fitness studios fall under businesses and services in the health guidelines and can be already open with public health measures in place.
As the city moves towards reopening the CGC it is also looking at the reopening of service counters at places like City Hall, though Rapp noted not all service counters may reopen as there are some that may not accommodate physical distancing.
The city has been encouraging residents to pay bills and seek out other counter services online, by phone or other means such as paying bills at the bank. Appointments are available for those seeking services offline.
She noted that since property tax notices have gone out there are some who have been making appointments to pay their taxes or for other matters as they are accustomed to in-person service.
“It’s important to them,” she said, noting the city wants to accommodate that where possible.
It was highlighted in the territory’s May 26 daily COVID update that summer day camp plans submitted by both the City of Whitehorse and Polarettes had been approved. The city has not brought forward any details on those plans yet.
“We continue to work closely with and follow the recommendations from the Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health,” the city noted in its statement.
While officials work on the city’s reopening plans, bylaw officers will be getting back to enforcing parking meter payments downtown.
The city announced May 26 those parking on downtown streets with meters will be required to pay for parking as of June 1.
Parking meter fees and transit fares were suspended March 21 due to COVID-19.
“The intention (in waiving transit and parking meter fees) is to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 through surface contacts and person-to-person interactions at City Hall,” city officials said at the time.
It was estimated the city sees about $37,362 in revenue from parking meters — in both fines being paid and coins in the meter — in a typical three-week period.
In the May 26 announcement that it would reinstate parking meter fees, officials noted the move comes in an effort to “ease pressure on downtown parking spaces as businesses re-open, and ensure a consistent rotation of available parking spaces in support of our local businesses.”
While city service counters remain closed right now, parking tickets can be paid online at whitehorse.ca/paynow or cash payments can be left in the drop box outside the entrance to City Hall on Second Avenue.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org