Seven city splash parks to open this weekend while fitness centres gear up to re-open

Rec centre users will see a difference in how they visit, and even use the centres, when they start reopening in July.

Prebooked workouts, no public skating among new restrictions

The City of Edmonton is preparing to reopen a number of recreation centres. (Kory Siegers/CBC)

A select group of Edmonton spray parks will open in time for the predicted warm weather this weekend, while recreation centre users will be able to get their workouts in starting in early July. 

But it won't be business as usual, especially for those using the city's rec centres.

Rather than just showing up for a workout, you'll have to book a time online in advance. In addition, physical distancing, gathering restrictions and hand hygiene will all affect how the facilities operate and how the public will be able to access them.

On July 6, the city will begin reopening fitness centres, gyms and fieldhouses at the Clareview, Commonwealth, Terwillegar and Meadows recreation centres. The Kinsmen Sports Centre will reopen in July but no date has yet been set. 

Seven spray parks will open this weekend including those at Callingwood, Castle Downs, G. Edmunds Kelly, Glengarry, Jackie Parker Park, Kinsmen and south Terwillegar Park. Adam Laughlin, acting as the interim city manager, warned people that peace officers will be outside to monitor compliance with physical distancing regulations.

"They'll be out and will continue to take the steps of education, warning and fining, if needed," he said at a news conference Friday.

"If there isn't compliance we will potentially take measures to close it down. We do need Edmontonians to follow the guidelines and make sure they're respecting what the health authority (is saying)." 

More spray parks are scheduled to open later in the summer. 

Gyms to restrict people inside

The recreation centres are opening even as the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to increase in Edmonton. Laughlin noted there are currently 20 cases per 100,000 people in the city of Edmonton — far below the threshhold of 50 cases per 100,000 that would put the openings in jeopardy.

"I'm concerned the number is going up but my trust is in Edmontonians to do their part to ensure we minimize the risk of spread," he said.

While gyms are opening, many amenities such as indoor running tracks and playgrounds won't be open, and instructor-led classes, drop-in classes and childminding won't be available.

As a result, the city will alter its fee schedule for rec centre users. There are currently three tiers of pricing and with the re-opening, everyone will pay for the lowest tier, Roger Jevne, the city's branch manager of community and recreation facilities, said.  

About 350 city staff who had either been deployed to other city operations or temporarily laid off have been recalled to work to handle the rec centre re-opening.

Swimmers should be able to start heading back to the pools beginning July 20 when the aquatic facilities at Clareview, Jasper Place and Bonnie Doon reopen. The Kinsmen pools are also expected to reopen but the date isn't set yet.

Aquatic centres will be restricted to modified lane swimming, aquafit classes, swimming lessons, public swim and rentals.

Finally, several arenas will be reopening for summer ice and concrete rentals. Kenilworth, Londonderry and the twin arenas at the Clareview, Callingwood and Mill Woods centres will open on July 2. 

Castle Downs and Russ Barnes arenas will open July 6 and 7 respectively, followed by the Meadows on July 13. 

Public skating and shinny hockey will not be available as the arenas will only operate on a booking system.

All city-run recreation facilities across Edmonton were closed on March 14 to help protect the safety of the public and city employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About two weeks later, recreation facility staff were among the 1,600 temporary layoffs announced by the city. 


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