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Canada Games Centre readies for reopening

The countdown is on
A sign greets guests near the entrance of the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse on June 11. The recreation facility will partially reopen again after its closure on June 15 due to COVID-19. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

The Plexiglas is in, signs are up, hand sanitizer is at the ready.

The Canada Games Centre will welcome guests inside and kids to day camps June 15.

Staff are nearly set for Phase 1 of the reopening after closing in March due to COVID-19.

Inside the CGC the afternoon of June 11, Krista Mroz, the city’s manager of recreation and facility services, is quick to note the CGC will be open, but it will not be “business as usual.”

“We’re excited to open the doors,” she said.

It’s hoped taking a slow, measured approach to reopening will be successful and allow staff to progress to future phases.

Above the front desk, a screen displays a count down to the second the facility will reopen at 6 a.m. June 15.

Distancing measures are evident walking into the building with doors clearly marked as entrance or exit only and directions in place showing just where to go. Distancing signs showing a caribou between two people are up throughout the CGC. Signage for the CGC, Mount McIntyre and Takhini Arena has cost the city approximately $3,500 and was produced locally and in-house.

Staff have been in contact with local stores as well as Outside counterparts to plan for signage in the facility and have practised the new procedures with the aim of a smooth transition back.

Previously customers would be served at one of three stations at the front desk, but the middle one will not be operating in order to ensure distancing of staff.

Some service reps are continuing to work at home, answering calls about memberships or other matters, Mroz said.

Plexiglas dividers separate customer service reps from clients and wristbands for drop-in clients will be passed to the customer who will then put them on themselves.

Along the main floor of the building, most seating has been removed to limit gathering in the main corridor and while staff are excited to welcome back residents, they are also asking everyone come dressed for their activity and bring their own water bottles as change rooms and fountains will be closed off.

Areas not yet set to open — arenas, the indoor playground, the aquatic centre — are clearly marked as closed.

Mroz said officials have used the closure time to do pool maintenance normally done in August (meaning once the pool opens in a future phase it won’t have to shut for annual maintenance in 2020). Inside the two arenas a major upgrade to the ice plant is underway with Outside crews following a risk management plan that keeps them away from city staff and others. The plan has been approved by the territory’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. The work is expected to take four to six weeks.

That means hockey, figure skating and public skating will be set to go when future phases of the reopening happen.

Other work has also been done with construction of a new space (formerly an open area in the main corridor) for youth, new LED lighting installed, floor work, painting in some areas and a thorough deep cleaning of the facility.

The field house has been divided into thirds to serve as the main site for daycamps beginning June 15 with markings in place to distance campers where possible. Along with the CGC, Takhini Arena and the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre will also serve as day camp locations this year.

Staff have been working to come up with no-contact games and activities for their groups of eight and activity bags will be provided to campers to use throughout their day.

Mroz acknowledged it will be a very different camp experience, with no field trips and without access to CGC spaces like the pool. At the same time, staff recognize the camps serve an important role for kids, many who have been out of school and perhaps home for months, as well as for parents.

For drop-in users, the track, fitness studio and hard-surfaced flexihall will be open along with fitness classes in the wellness studio. The flexihall will be divided into three sections with up to 10 people permitted in each at one time.

The studio used for fitness classes has been marked off with squares for patrons. Many classes are set to happen outside allowing for a larger crowd.

Inside the workout space upstairs, up to 30 people will be permitted at one time based on the floor space and equipment.

“Even on our busiest day we didn’t get more than 35,” Mroz said.

A box full of spray bottles and towels are outside the space with users expected to grab one and wipe down equipment they use. Machines have been shifted around with some taken out and put in storage. There are also dots on the floor in areas like the weights to help with proper spacing.

Greeters will be on-hand at each open area to let users know of the new procedures and how each space is to be used.

While the track will look much the same prior to COVID, there will be cones placed in the middle lane with users asked to limit passing and not walk/run side-by-side.

As staff have continued training for new procedures and looking at how to best address the health and safety of clients and staff bringing forward ideas for the reopening, Mroz said it has meant a lot of work being done together with staff taking on changing roles, something that is set to continue in the weeks ahead.

“There’s been a lot of team building,” she said.

Mroz said it’s also recognized adjustments will be made as needed.

While the experience at the CGC will be a very different one for users when they return June 15, Mroz said staff are looking forward to welcoming the community back to the facility.

“They’ve missed that connection with the community,” she said.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Stephanie Waddell

About the Author: Stephanie Waddell

I joined Black Press in 2019 as a reporter for the Yukon News, becoming editor in February 2023.
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