North

Pool, ice rink open at Whitehorse's Canada Games Centre

Whitehorse's Canada Games Centre has begun the second phase of its reopening this week — with ice and pool open.

Facility closed in March due to COVID-19, and began phase 2 of its reopening this week

The Canada Games Centre pool will allow just one swimmer per lane, in order to maintain physical distancing. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Whitehorse's Canada Games Centre has begun the second phase of its reopening this week — with ice and the pool open.

"We are pretty excited," said Karen Zaidan, the aquatics coordinator at the facility.

"We've been working really hard with the Lifesaving Society, Red Cross and other officials and governing bodies to make sure that when we do open — and now we have opened — that we're opening safely."

The Games Centre was closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In June, the facility partially reopened, with the flexihall open for some drop-in sports and fitness classes.

Opening the pool poses new challenges though, with the goal of maintaining physical distancing measures. 

For now, the main communal change rooms are not open and swimmers will instead use the smaller, private change rooms usually meant for families. Zaidan says that will slow things down a bit, as staff clean rooms after each use.

The Canada Games Centre was closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Phase one of its reopening began in June. (Mardy Derby/CBC)

Entry to the pool will be staggered, Zaidan said.

"So not everybody is coming at the same time .... We don't have lineups, we don't have people waiting around as much."

The pool will only be open for lane swimming right now. The hot tub, steam room and sauna remain closed. Aquafitness and other aquatics classes are still on hold. 

"In the past, we've had maybe 40 people show up for an aquafit class. So we need to look at how we can manage space, how we can manage flow for those people coming in and safely exiting as well," Zaidan said.

Zaidan says staff will evaluate how things are working and whether to make adjustments. She says lifeguards have been trained in how to do water rescues safely "ìn this new COVID situation."

Things will also be a little different for ice skaters at the centre. There will be public drop-in times, but only 10 people will be allowed on the ice at any time. There also won't be any rental skates available.

With files from Leonard Linklater

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