Sections of the Hay River Community Centre reopened to the public on Sept. 16, a significant step for the important facility.
The walking track, lobby and rental halls reopened with a limitation of 25 people in each location because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Those are the core functions that are available right now,” said Glenn Smith, the Town of Hay River’s senior administrative officer, during the Sept. 15 online meeting of council.
“We’ll be operating Monday to Friday at this point until 8 p.m.,” he said, noting the partial reopening allows for fitness classes and afterschool programming.
The Community Centre now has signs at its entrances advising people of the new rules because of Covid-19 and some barricades to keep people in various sections of the building.
“And our staff, of course, to help with direction there,” said Smith.
The Sept. 16 reopening is part of a five-step plan to see all functions eventually resume at the centre.
“More elements of the Community Centre and functions are to open up in the coming months,” said Smith.
The next significant date is Oct. 12 when it is hoped that activities on the arena ice and at the curling rink can resume, again with precautions because of Covid-19.
And Nov. 9 is being targeted as the date which may see the reopening of the swimming pool.
The plans for those next steps, which include involvement by various user groups, are still awaiting approval by Dr. Kami Kandola, the chief public health officer for the NWT.
Speaking on Sept. 16, Kandola said those plans are undergoing review.
“It’s going through the regular process,” she said. “Typically, there is a back and forth with the submitter and, once all the questions are responded to, then they would move the approval process forward.”
Kandola said the quicker there are responses to questions, the faster the process will be.
In comments to The Hub on Sept. 17, Smith was optimistic that the further reopening will take place by the target dates.
“I’m certainly hopeful and fairly confident that those activities will resume as planned,” he said. “It relies on mostly community groups that are leading them. From our standpoint and meetings that we’ve had in supporting the process, the groups are aware of what to do, what’s needed to be put in place. They seem to have the interest and the resources to do that.”
Smith said the most uncertainty is around the reopening of the swimming pool.
“We’ll see,” he said. “I think by indications so far we’re optimistic that we will be able to operate with the given changes in procedures, but we’re not looking at opening (the swimming pool) until November.”