North

Many N.W.T. athletes on track to go back on the ice this fall

The N.W.T public health office is working with sports organizations to approve return-to-play plans for the upcoming sports season.

N.W.T public health office approves some sports organizations’ plans to start activities sooner

NWT Amateur Speed Skating Association athletes on the ice. The Northwest Territories public health office has been working with sports organizations to approve return-to-play proposals. (Submitted by Jody Pellisey)

The Northwest Territories public health office has been working with sports organizations to approve return-to-play proposals that will allow them to operate earlier in the territory's reopening plan.

Previously, a number of sports organizations were restricted from operating until at least Phase 3 or 4 in the territory's Emerging Wisely reopening plan during the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far, approvals for the Yellowknife Gymnastics Club, the Yellowknife Sporting Club's hockey skills camp and the NWT Amateur Speed Skating Association were provided as exceptional circumstance exemptions by the public health office.

Jody Pellissey, sports director for the NWT Amatuer Speed Skating Association, said she was "thrilled'' after a meeting with Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola in early July.

There's been nothing traditional about this year.- Steve Moss, NWT Curling Association

"We provided her with our return-to-ice guidelines that we have developed that were based on similar mitigations that they're using at the Olympic Oval in Calgary and in British Columbia."

"She asked for a couple of tweaks to our plan. But you know, just minor things, and so we were very happy," said Pellissey. 

This season, coaches will conduct practice from the benches and athletes will have to come dressed for practice, as there will be no access to change rooms, said Pellissey. There will also be a maximum of 20 athletes allowed on the ice at any given time, she said.

"We wanted to be sure that we were being as safe as possible but also getting our kids back on the ice."

Steve Moss says he's optimistic the Yellowknife Curling Club's plan will get approved. (Submitted by Steve Moss)

Curling club, hockey league optimistic

Steve Moss, the past president of the NWT Curling Association, said the Yellowknife Curling Club is currently in the process of creating its own return-to-play plan as well. It includes looking at how people enter, exit and conduct themselves in the facility. It also covers physical distancing protocols and sanitizing logistics. 

Kacee MacLean, president of the Yellowknife Minor Hockey Association, said their annual meeting is on Aug. 20. (Submitted by Kacee MacLean)

"We've looked at all the angles and we think that we've covered off a lot of that." 

Moss said he's optimistic the plan will get approved. He said rinks would have to begin putting in artificial ice soon, in order for the season to start on time.

"We are on a little bit of a time crunch if we're going to have a traditional start to the year. But there's been nothing traditional about this year." 

Kacee MacLean, president of the Yellowknife Minor Hockey Association, said the league is hoping to receive approval for their return-to-play plan within the week.

She said the association's annual meeting is on Aug. 20, and is hoping to have approval to start for Sept. 18.

"At first it's going to be practice only … We've asked that every month we'll discuss with the chief public health office on whether or not we can start playing games."

MacLean said if there are no cases of COVID-19 within the territory, they're hoping to start playing games within six weeks of school starting. 

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