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The Hay River swimming pool – – shown here empty late last week –- will be reopening in early November after a closure because of Covid-19 restrictions. Tentative plans are for the refilling of the pool to begin this week.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

The swimming pool in Hay River will be reopening early next month.

That is after the Town of Hay River received approval from the GNWT on Oct. 13 for its plans to reopen the pool from its Covid-19 closure.

The target date for the reopening is Nov. 9.

“We might get a bit earlier than that, but at this point I think it’s safe to say that we’re targeting for opening in the beginning of November,” said Glenn Smith, the senior administrative officer (SAO) with the town.

Smith said it is expected that the refilling of the pool will begin this week, or before the end of the month.

It has not been operating since the Hay River Community Centre closed to the public in March because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Sections of the community centre have been gradually reopening, and the swimming pool will be the final part of the complex to welcome back the public.

“It’s certainly significant for our recreation programming. It’s one of our signature facilities and programs offered to the community, especially the youth of the community,” said Smith of the reopening of the pool. “So it’s a major step forward bringing back normalcy throughout the winter, and we look forward to providing that recreation opportunity to the community.”

The SAO noted that lifeguards are going through recertification and a training program was scheduled to begin this past weekend.

Under the reopening plan for the pool approved by the NWT’s chief public health officer, it will be limited to a maximum of 24 persons – 20 people in the swimming pool and four people in the hot tub.

It will be permitted to offer recreational programs and private swimming rentals.

During the Oct. 5 online meeting of town council, Stephane Millette, the recreation director with the town, noted the town’s application to reopen the pool is very similar to those submitted by other communities that have also received approval.

“I’m not expecting the guidelines to affect our operations much,” he said. “They will require patrons to change the way that they use our facilities in the sense that appointments will be necessary to use the aquatic centre and there are some other small guidelines. But for the most part for the use that we see on a regular basis our operations should be fairly normal.”

Millette said he expects usage at the pool to possibly increase because people are looking forward to returning, and they will get used to the new measures and scheduling.

The sections of the community centre that have already reopened include the arena ice, the walking track, rental spaces and the customer service desk.

“Everything is back to operation with the limits that have been put in place,” said Smith. “Those might change over time depending on how things progress, or if there are no cases or if there are cases (of Covid-19).”

The reopening of the curling rink is being handled by the Hay River Curling Club, and play is scheduled to begin in the first week of November.

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Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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