Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre remains open for business despite enhanced COVID-19 restrictions across the province.
On Nov. 15, Cochrane's COVID-19 situation was officially designated as “enhanced” by the Alberta government when the number of active COVID-19 cases in the community jumped to 23.
“We hit enhanced yesterday, which affects the bars and closing times, but Cochrane is still exempt from the sports and the fitness ban,” said Brooke Sabourin, programs manager with Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre.
Restrictions on social gathering sizes, funeral and wedding attendance numbers and faith-based gathering sizes were implemented in many communities across Alberta Nov. 13, but restrictions on fitness classes have not yet been issued for Cochrane.
“We’re getting flooded with phone calls with people asking about our programs thinking they’re cancelled right now because of the City’s announcement,” said Michelle Everett, sales and marketing manager at Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre.
If the province does change course suddenly, there are a number of contingency plans in place based on which programs and facilities might be affected, Everett noted.
“It’s day-to-day, right? If [Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health] updates her message, we have to be ready to shut down as well for the amount of time they state,” she said.
Everett said the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre is communicating its policy changes to its membership through its electronic newsletter.
“It’s normally a monthly newsletter, but it’s the fastest way to communicate to our members and non-members who have signed up for our newsletter,” she said. “If there’s an announcement to stop programs immediately we’ll use that platform and we’ll get it out within an hour.”
The recreation centre will also use social media to provide updates, Everett said, but the most consistent way to get news about the facility's programs is via the newsletter.
“We don’t spam people, we don’t send out daily messages because we want to be in your face” she said. “It’s only for monthly updates on programs and events, and now we’re using it for our CEO messages and urgent news.”
Many user groups including Cochrane Minor Hockey, the Airdrie-Cochrane Athletic Association and the Cochrane Generals have cancelled bookings at the arena facilities, but those cancellations are due to rules introduced by Hockey Alberta, the body that governs minor and junior hockey in the province, Sabourin said.
Despite increasing COVID-19 cases across the province, the leadership of Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre is determined to keep the facility open and operational. The facility has invested heavily in cleaning protocols and products, which are available for guests and staff. Masks are mandatory inside the facility, and with a large amount of space and low number of touchpoints, patrons should feel safe, Everett said.
“Our goal is to be open as much as possible and to keep things safe and to encourage people to still come,” Everett said. “People can really feel safe about coming here, and having their space and working out.”
There have been a few known cases of COVID-19 positive individuals at the facility. One member of a Cochrane swim club in September and a parent of one of the Calgary Titans hockey players who may have visited the facility to watch their child play near the end of October both tested positive for COVID-19 in the days following their visits.
To date, there has been no evidence of community transmission within the facility.