More than 500 laid-off staff returning as City of Winnipeg prepares to reopen pools, some community services

Hundreds of laid-off staff will be returning to work as the City of Winnipeg gets set to resume several community programs and services.

Outdoor pools and wading pools to reopen as soon as July 3

The City of Winnipeg is bringing back hundreds of staff who were temporarily laid off as it prepares to reopen pools and other city services. (Aaron Favila/Associated Press)

More than 500 temporarily laid-off staff will be returning to work as the City of Winnipeg gets set to resume more community programs and services.

About 400 staff in the community services department will be brought back in total, as the city prepares to reopen outdoor pools, wading pools, and its animal services agency, the city said in a Tuesday news release.

In an email, city spokesperson Felicia Wiltshire said that overall number includes 409 staff working in community services and 100 transit drivers, of more than 250 drivers who were laid off.

Over 200 city staff are still laid off, after the city began laying off some employees in April in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

During a phone-in news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Brian Bowman said the city has been trying to balance its responsibility to employees and spending of public funds.

"We put a lot of effort into trying to mitigate the effects on our city employees by finding ways to redeploy where doing so was possible," he said.

WATCH | More than 500 laid-off city staff returning:

More than 500 temporarily laid-off staff will be returning to work as the City of Winnipeg gets set to resume more community programs and services. 1:36

City of Winnipeg emergency operations manager Jay Shaw told media the community services staff being recalled includes staff needed to operate outdoor pools, such as recreation staff and lifeguards.

The city has been focusing on reintroducing pools in the "higher needs" areas of Winnipeg, he said at Tuesday's news conference.

Dive in

Outdoor pools and wading pools will be reopening as soon as July 3, with capacity reduced to meet physical distancing guidelines, the city says.

People will have to maintain a two-metre distance from others at pools, Shaw said. That rule doesn't apply to members of the same household.

People will be encouraged to pre-book two-hour time slots in advance, as swimmers dropping in may not be able to go for a dip if the pool is at capacity.

More details on how to pre-book slots will be announced closer to the reopening of pools.

Pools will be cleaned between each interval, the city said. As well, users will have to come ready to swim, because lockers will not be available and the use of change rooms, washrooms and showers will be limited, according to the release.

Users will be pre-screened for symptoms of COVID-19 using a checklist, and anyone showing symptoms will not be allowed to enter.

Swimming lessons will not be available, and aquafit classes will be offered at select locations, the city's release says.

Free admission will be provided at non-heated pools, but not heated ones.

Pools set to resume operations:

  • Non-heated pools: Happyland, Provencher and Windsor Park.
  • Heated pools: Fort Garry Lions, Kildonan Park, St. Vital, Transcona Aquatic Park and Westdale.

Hours of operation:

  • Kildonan Park: Four two-hour blocks daily between 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. (with 30 minutes between each block).
  • All other outdoor pools: Three two-hour blocks daily between noon and 7 p.m. (with 30 minutes between each block).

Freight House, located in the city's Centennial area, is currently not scheduled to reopen.

The city also said 33 wading pools are tentatively set to reopen on July 3, operating from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

No date has been set for reopening the city's indoor pools, Shaw said.

Other city services to resume

The city's animal services agency will be partially reopening on Wednesday, the city announced in its news release.

The Logan Avenue facility will be open seven days a week for pet licensing, fee collection, lost dog reunions and adoptions. The kennels will remain closed to the public for now.

Safety measures will be in place, including staff training on new protocols and Plexiglas shields installed at the front counter.

The city also says the skywalk portion of the connected downtown pathway, which was closed in early April, will reopen on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., starting next Monday. It will remain closed on weekends.

Shaw hopes to have more details in the next week on reopening city hall to the public.

With files from Bartley Kives


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