District lays out schedule to re-open rec facilities

The plan is for limited pool opening in mid-September

Pool to re-open for limited use in mid-September. (File photo)

The District of Houston has now tagged mid-September as an opening date for limited pool use at its leisure facilities.

Public swim and lane swimming then would be followed by expanding use in mid-October and adjult pool fitness programming in early November, indicates a comprehensive district recreation facilities re-opening plan now approved by council.

The plan follows the complete mid-March closure of all of the district’s outdoor and indoor recreation facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Claude Parish Memorial Arena users can look forward to ice going in the end of September with drop in public skating to follow as a first activity.

Some parks have been open since May with remaining parks and playgrounds opened in June and the ByMac campground this month. The fitness centre re-opened in mid-June.

User groups were able to return to the Four Seasons Rodeo Grounds earlier this month, limited use of the community hall is planned for mid-September with full leisure facility programming anticipated by next January followed by outdoor sports such soccer and baseball returning next spring.

“Because we are in uncharted territory, our approach to re-opening facilities has been calculated carefully adaopted to ensure the utmost safety for staff and public,” leisures services director Tasha Kelly outlined in a lengthy document for council.

“Creating new safety plans and protocols is a tedious process and staff have been receptive and adaptive in the changing processes as more information becomes available.”

Kelly noted that the majority of leisure services staff were laid off and a hiring freeze implemented with affected employees being entitled to federal and provincial wage benefits.

She said re-opening plans must follow COVID-19 guidelines issued by WorkSafe BC.

“This process takes time meaning there is a time lag between the provincial level authorizing the reopening to the actual time the municipality is capable of reopening,” Kelly continued.

Safety protocols must also fit within the District’s insurance policies to minimize its liability exposure, she added.

Some leisure services staffers were recalled when the fitness centre opened in mid-June and staffers will be back for the planned limited opening of the pool in mid-September and as many as six staffers will be recalled to the arena when ice goes in the end of September.

The District of Houston’s pandemic response plan is 23 pages long with another one of 25 pages specific to its leisure services facilities.

Each outlines comprehensive measures to ensure safety is paramount.

One of the principles is that “no employee shall be discharged, penalized or disciplined for refusing to work on a job or in any workplace or to operate any equipment that, in the employee’s reasonably held opinion, is unsafe to him/herself or any other person, including an unborn child.”

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