Strong demand for arenas: Council to open six venues starting mid-August
At the July 28 Council meeting, Ron Taylor, CAO, provided a presentation to council summarizing the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including a review of service levels and finances to date.
Taylor noted the municipality has been operating under a State of Emergency (SoE) for four months and recently lifted the SoE on July 24. This decision was in line with the lapse of the Province’s SoE.
Under the Reopening Ontario Act, Provincial Orders in effect can be extended every 30 days. The municipality and its police services and by-law enforcement will continue to support, educate and enforce Orders in place from the Province and the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit.
Kawartha Lakes is in Stage 3 of re-opening as of July 17
- Most businesses and services can open in Stage 3, subject to compliance with varying health protocols and occupancy limitations.
- Indoor gathering limits increased to a maximum 50 people, outdoor gathering limits increased to a maximum 100 people.
- Childcare centres permitted to increase children attendance (effective July 27)
- Mandatory masks in commercial establishments effective July 13, updated July 17 to apply to all places of business or facilities that are indoors and open to the public.
- Many services have returned including landfills, public swimming at Lindsay Recreation Complex, some library services and recreation facilities. For a full list of services that have been restored and those that remain closed, please see our COVID-19 webpage.
Summer service levels
In light of the provincial restrictions for gatherings and sports activities, the municipality has been outreaching to community groups to understand demand for local services and working toward the following targeted re-openings:
- Fitness classes at Lindsay Recreation Centre beginning August 10, Gym (fitness equipment) to open August 31, by registration
- Lindsay Arena (ice pads) to open August 17 subject to demand
- Arena Halls (Fenelon Falls, Emily/Omemee, Little Britain and Lindsay) to open August 4 for bookings
- Targeting 1-2 multi-function service centres to potentially open later in August/early September to provide certain services to the public (under review)
Local Service Provision for September/October
Staff has polled user groups for 2020-21 ice pad bookings and interest expressed suggests strong demand for ice pad bookings, with many facilities exceeding on average 40 hours per week.
In order to have the lead time to prepare ice pads and to provide community groups and leagues the assurance of ice availability, staff recommended to Council that six arenas (seven total ice pads) be prepped for staggered openings through the fall based on demand: Lindsay will open first, followed by Fenelon Falls, Little Britain, Emily/Omemee if demand warrants.
Following that, Woodville and Manvers arenas will open if warranted. These facilities are geographically spread out throughout the municipality, and partially staffed already or serving other functions. Health and safety protocols for the first opening at the Lindsay Recreation Complex on August 17 will involve strict parameters such as no access to dressing rooms and limited numbers of users.
Oakwood, Bobcaygeon and Ops arenas would remain closed for the 2020-21 season, but could be available for public meetings, gatherings and other recreational functions.
“User groups are going to need some flexibility as they’re dealing with unknowns. We’ll try to meet the demand while avoiding opening buildings that are not used to their full potential,” commented Mayor Letham.
Other services remaining closed
- Provincial Offences in-person court matters remain closed until at least September 11.
- Community Halls remain closed, to review demand and feasibility of openings beginning later in August, in consultation with Volunteer Management Committees, staff and the Health Unit.
- The Armoury remains closed until at least September 1 to serve as a support field hospital, if necessary.
- City Administration Buildings remain closed to the public.
The Federal government has announced $4 billion in one-time emergency assistance to all Ontario municipalities over the next four to six months. This shared funding is targeted toward municipal operating relief, transit, social services and public health.
Taylor explained that the City continues to target “break even” on the 2020 year-end budget, despite over $5.7 million in budget pressure due to the pandemic. To date, staff have generated $3.3 million in savings, leaving a remaining $2.5 million forecasted shortfall.
Council directed staff to work with all departments to further reduce 2020 budgets through continued service suspensions and reductions, where appropriate and feasible. These could include suspending certain 2020 operating road programs such as ditching and brushing, deferring capital projects and maintaining limited public access to various buildings and facilities.
Mayor Letham commented, “This was a bold decision by Council today. We’re trying to close the gap between revenues and expenses, and work toward a balanced budget. I believe our cautious approach to bringing services back will achieve this. It’s going to mean some continued inconveniences between now and year end, but I think our residents appreciate that we’re focused on delivering the essential services while keeping taxes as affordable as possible during these difficult times.”