After three months of closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rocky View County (RVC) is rolling out its plan to reopen public amenities and facilities.
According to Bart Goemans, manager of Marketing and Communications, the municipality recently lifted restrictions at County Hall.
“Public access to County Hall resumed May 1 by appointment only,” he said. “As of June 22, County Hall public access is now available without appointment. However, it is still recommended."
Appointments can be booked by calling 403-230-1401, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contacting a specific service department.
For safety reasons, Goemans added social distancing and other health measures are in place, and the County also provides masks and hand sanitizer to visitors. Anyone visiting County Hall is asked to follow signage and on-site instructions.
“Guests are asked to do a health self-assessment and should not book an appointment or attend County Hall if they have fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, sore throat, runny nose or if they have been in contact with somebody infected with COVID-19 within 14 days,” he said.
All County-run programs, open houses and similar events remain cancelled throughout the municipality.
Public attendance at County council meetings is once again permitted with social distancing measures in place. Goemans said this means a maximum of 50 people are allowed to attend and there is no guarantee of attendance if that capacity is reached.
Meanwhile, the Alberta government gave indoor fitness and recreation facilities the green light to resume operations June 12 as part of Stage 2 of its economic relaunch strategy, and Goemans said staff at each RVC facility is responsible for rolling out their own reopening plans.
Lisa Brister, facility administrator for the Indus Recreation Centre (IRC), said the facility is tentatively scheduled to reopen July 2.
“We’re not going to rush it because we feel like if we rush it, we might miss something or forget about something – we don’t want to be behind the eight-ball,” she said.
For the first six weeks after reopening, local lacrosse teams and pickleball players will be able to rent the rink and offer modified programming, Brister said. She added the facility will likely get busier in mid-August after ice at the rink is in place and hockey teams are able to start booking the space. The curling rink will remain closed until October.
According to Brister, enhanced health and safety protocols will accompany IRC's reopening, to help limit the spread of COVID-19. This will include limiting capacity to 50 people in each distinct area of the facility – the rink, the banquet hall and the curling rink.
Staff at IRC will also install signage reminding people to practice physical distancing, Brister said, as well as arrows on the floor to encourage one-directional flow.
“We’ll be asking users to come in and out one door so we can keep proper counts of people,” she said. “Hand sanitizer is going to be available. We are going to purchase an electrostatic sprayer to spray a chemical that disinfects everything.”
Anyone entering the facility will have to sign a waiver, and visitors will be asked if they are feeling unwell, if they have recently travelled or come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.
On the west side of the county, a slightly longer timeline is in place to reopen the Springbank Park For All Seasons (SPFAS), according to General Manager John Rop.
"Currently, we're able to have our fields open, and that's a real highlight for our soccer community and baseball community that uses our fields," he said. "We've implemented safe field-use practices with our colleagues that operate our soccer club and baseball organizations."
Regarding SPFAS' two arenas, Rop said indoor restrictions are more challenging to deal with, "but we are looking at some community use of our facilities with meeting spaces and with dryland training." He added the arenas will remain closed for another month, as staff took advantage of the extended closure to complete maintenance work.
"We've funded that work, it's in progress and we're looking forward to having our indoor skating rinks open again around July 15," he said.
Given the new measures at rec facilities, Brister said she hopes visitors will treat staff respectfully and courteously.
“I’ve seen lots of things as I’ve travelled [to] Walmart and different places, where the staff are not being treated the best,” she said. “I’m hoping our community backs the guidelines and the protocols we’re going to put in place so that it’s a positive experience. The community is great, so I’m hoping they’re going to continue to be great. It’s not a situation any of us want to be in.”