By Chad Ingram
The Township of Minden Hills is hoping for a gradual opening of its new recreation complex that could see members of the public using the gymnasium portion of the building, in accordance with public health and safety protocols, by late winter or early spring.
The $13-million facility, which includes an NHL-sized ice rink, six change rooms, office space for community services staff, a multipurpose gym, fitness room and elevated walking track – is largely complete, but at this time remains closed to the public during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Under the current provincial emergency orders the facility must remain closed to the public at this time,” reads a press release issued by the township last week. “However, once allowable, the municipality will reassess opening dates and targets, and based on where our public health region falls within the province of Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework, the facility will begin to operationalize in accordance with those guidelines. It is the municipality’s intention, to first offer regulated access to the gym areas of the facility for the late winter/early spring season, when possible.”
No ice will be installed in the arena for the remainder of this ice season, the plan being to install ice for the 2021/22 ice season in August.
During a budget meeting last month, some members of council said they didn’t foresee the facility opening before June.
If a staggered opening becomes possible, it will be with COVID-19 safety protocols in place. For pickleball, there will be limited pre-registered court times; a limit of four players on each court at a time; and the court time will be allotted in one-hour blocks, with a mandatory 20 minutes between each session. No spectators will be permitted, and face masks must be worn inside except when playing. Players will have to bring their own equipment.
For the use of the walking track, pre-registration will be required and there will be a limit of 10 walkers at a time. The track will be booked in one-hour time slots, masks must be worn except while exercising, and social distancing will have to be adhered to.
“Access to the building will be a little different, but these protocols in place will help keep visitors and employees healthy and safe,” community services Craig Belfry said in the release. “The gradual reopening of our community centre will see more programs and services being restored when it is safe to do so.”