Expanded city services coming soon as mayor outlines details

By Kirk Winter

Playgrounds will re-open with no restrictions.

Mayor Andy Letham had a lengthy and detailed list of municipal services and facilities that will be ramping up their services over the next two to six weeks.

The city is moving into a “level 3” re-opening on Friday, following the provincial guidelines.

“This re-opening needs to be done properly,” Letham said, “being mindful that the city cannot end the year with the deficit it is currently carrying.”

He notes there is “still no commitment” from any other level of government to help the city.

“Some people have complained we are moving too slowly,” the mayor stated, “but we are trying our best.”

Services and facilities ramping up their services over the next two to six weeks include:

  • All 55 city-run playgrounds will re-open with no restrictions this Friday.
  • On Aug. 4 restrictions at city-run splash pads will be lifted and staffing will be reduced back to more normal levels with capacity at the facilities increased from ten to fifty.
  • On July 20 the Lindsay Rec Centre’s pool will re-open with a restriction on the number of swimmers allowed. Until Sept. 1 swimmers will need to phone and book appointments. Expanded hours will begin Sept. 1.
  • On August 10 city-run fitness classes will begin again in Lindsay with the goal of the weight room also re-opening on Sept. 1.
  • One ice pad in Lindsay will re-open on Aug. 17, with the fate of more arenas opening to be determined by council on July 28.
  • One city service centre is scheduled to re-open on Aug. 1. The location was not shared at the media scrum.
  • The Armoury in Lindsay will re-open to the public on Sept. 1. Currently the building is being reserved as a backup field hospital for Ross Memorial if COVID cases were to have overwhelmed hospital capacity.
  • On Aug. 4 the community centres connected to the Emily-Omemee, Fenelon Falls, Little Britain and Lindsay arenas will re-open.
  • Six additional library branches are going to open for pick-up and drop off. Branches in Dunsford, Dalton, Coboconk and Little Britain are likely to remain closed for the foreseeable future.
  • On July 24 playing fields and ball diamonds are going to be available for booking assuming community groups are prepared to follow the compliance regulations laid down by the province regarding team sports. Limited city staffing will mean that not all facilities can be open simultaneously.

The mayor added some important caveats about a few of the facility re-openings.

Regarding playgrounds Letham reminded parents, “We are inspecting the sites as we speak. Barriers are being taken down. Additional signage will be going up next week, but basically the message is use at your own risk.”

“There will be no staff in place, and playgrounds will not be regularly cleaned.” Letham added. “It will be up to the parents to make decisions about safety.”

On the issue of splash pads, Letham’s message was similar.

“Staff will no longer be present throughout the day. The city will no longer be shutting down the facilities every couple of hours to sanitize. If too many gather once the fences come down we will deal with that issue then.”

When asked by the press what advice he had for parents the mayor suggested that kids wash their hands often either with soap or hand sanitizer.

“The initiative will be on the parents who choose to use these facilities.”

When asked about the city-run fitness centre Letham said there will need to be additional protocols in place when the weight and cardio room re-opens Sept. 1.

“There will be challenges regarding cleaning and reduced capacity.  There will also be a requirement that participants wear masks as the facility is indoors.”

Letham then spent a few minutes dealing with the nuanced issue that arena re-opening will be for the city. While Letham was pleased that as of July 8 the city had received many letters of intent from user groups, and commitments look good for the winter season, problems persist.

“Council will have the final say on July 28 on how many arenas open,” the mayor said, “There are currently not enough bookings in Bobcaygeon, Oakwood and Little Britain and that is going to be looked at when we debate this issue at council.”

When asked by reporters what he thought of indoor restaurant service, movie theatres and gyms being able to re-open Friday Letham shared, “They are excited to re-open.  Particularly for restaurants it makes their operation more feasible than just offering take-out or patio service.”

The mayor was also relatively pleased on many levels with the first three days of the compulsory mask order. He had received only a few e-mails complaining about the imposition of the mask order by public health.

“We support the public health order, “Letham made clear, “and most people largely understand why it is necessary.”

“There seems to be very little negative feedback so far, “Letham concluded, “The mask mandate reflects a concern with a second wave of COVID. Masks are a simple and effective way to protect yourself and others. Wearing a mask is only common sense.”

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