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NWT communities apply to reopen recreation centres


Yellowknife, Hay River, and Fort Smith have all applied to the GNWT for exemptions to open their recreation centres before phase three of the territory’s pandemic reopening plan kicks in.

As stated in that Emerging Wisely plan, phase three – which only applies once an expected second wave of Covid-19 has been and gone in southern Canada – allows for the likes of pools, gymnastics clubs, and common use gyms to reopen.

But communities are seeking exclusions that will let facilities open their doors earlier with a set maximum capacity, social distancing plans, specific entrances and exits, and additional measures.

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No proposals have so far been approved by the chief public health officer.

Town of Hay River staff last week stated they had been in preliminary discussions with the GNWT about reopening and have submitted a plan.

The plan, if approved, involves opening in five stages with the next step on September 14. At that point, the town hopes to open facilities like its walking track and front desk.

Hay River’s director of recreation, Stephane Millette, said he had a meeting with a territorial government official last Thursday and there were no significant changes needed to the initial plan.

He says since the building is more of a recreation complex, there are different spaces that can be used in different ways – each with its own maximum capacity and safety guidelines.

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The aquatic centre will be one of the last facilities to open its doors and will require a separate proposal to be submitted in October, according to the plan.

Millette says the town hopes to create “bubbles” within municipal spaces, meaning the same people will hopefully attend the same events, so residents are interacting with familiar people.

“If the risk was to increase, or if there were to be cases in the community, then we’re reducing the risk of the virus spreading,” he said.

Buildings like the skating rink are slated to open in October.

Yellowknife submits request

The City of Yellowknife has also submitted a request to reopen more facilities.

If Yellowknife’s plan gains approval, the city expects to take approximately two weeks to prepare facilities before they are ready to reopen.

Earlier this summer the city opened facilities like its fieldhouse, library, City Hall, and the Somba K’e washrooms.

“Once all details have been finalized, the city will share the specific details for reopening,” a statement from the city read.

The city says it is working with community groups and organizations to accommodate activities for the upcoming season.

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