Yellowknife’s city councillors look set to vote down a proposal to require proof of vaccination at municipal facilities. But the practical effect of that vote will be limited.
On Tuesday, Yellowknife’s mayor and the NWT’s Office of the Chief Public Health Officer each said a vote against the measure was expected to have little impact on user groups who have decided to adopt proof-of-vaccination requirements themselves.
For example, a number of Yellowknife soccer and hockey leagues – which use city facilities – have already agreed to require that players and, in some cases, spectators show proof of vaccination to attend.
Even if the city opts not to institute its own proof-of-vaccination requirements at municipal buildings, the user groups would be entitled to keep using proof of vaccination and retain the increased capacities that accompany their exemptions.
“The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer is not planning to revisit the approved applications, regardless of whether or not city council votes to implement a PVC in their facilities,” said Richard Makohoniuk, a spokesperson for Chief Public Health Officer Dr Kami Kandola, using an abbreviation for proof-of-vaccination credentials.
By email, Mayor Rebecca Alty confirmed the city had discussed with Dr Kandola’s office what would happen to other user groups using city facilities.
“They’d be able to continue to operate with their numbers,” Alty wrote. “It’d just be City of Yellowknife programs that are impacted.”
In other words, a “no” vote from councillors to requiring vaccination proof would affect things like the library, public skating and swimming sessions, the fieldhouse’s walking track, and drop-in family play at the fieldhouse. Strict limits would be placed on capacities for each of those activities, though the city could use other measures to seek some form of exemption from the chief public health officer.
But groups using vaccination proof to run larger soccer, hockey, or other sessions are not set to be affected.
Makohoniuk said the city theoretically has the capability to increase its own facility restrictions “and override the approved capacities already granted to user groups,” but in practice the municipality is not expected to do so.
“What I understood from the meeting is that the user groups’ POV will stay in effect,” said Councillor Steve Payne on Tuesday by email, using another abbreviation for proof of vaccination.
Payne was one of five councillors who, at a meeting on Monday, said they opposed the introduction of vaccination proof to increase capacities at city facilities. Those councillors, in general terms, argue the measure is not fair.
“It’s about the 20 percent of residents not having anything facility-wise to look forward to using, especially with the winter coming,” Payne wrote on Tuesday, referring to the approximate number of unvaccinated people in Yellowknife.