Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia starts opening school gyms for public use

Nova Scotia will reopen public school gyms to community sports groups, the government said Tuesday. The facilities remained shut for months during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Province says sports teams will be able to resume bookings, but must avoid main school building

Nova Scotia's school gyms have been closed to the public since March. That's starting to change. (Submitted by École des Beaux-Marais Action Team)

Nova Scotia will reopen public school gyms to community sports groups, the government said Tuesday, allowing organizations to book facilities that have been closed to the wider public for months during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Education Minister Zach Churchill said the "safe and successful" start to the school year means officials now feel it's safe to let other people use the gyms. Rental fees won't be charged for this school year.

"Physical activity and sport are vital to our well-being, particularly during this difficult time. As the weather turns cold, it's important for community members to have safe spaces to bring these activities indoors," he said in a news release.

The government has set aside $5.5 million in federal funding to help French and English schools hire extra staff to be on hand to make sure members of the public stick to the gyms and washrooms and stay out of the rest of the buildings.

Each school district will post a list of school gyms on their website, Churchill said.

The Halifax Regional Municipality handles bookings for the Halifax Regional Centre for Education and said it's working to make its 130 bookable locations ready for public use. HRM is contacting existing clients.

HRM said bookings at Auburn Drive High School, Dartmouth High School, Sir John A. MacDonald High School, Halifax West High School, Sackville High School and Cunard Junior High School will begin on Thursday and all other bookings will start the week of Nov. 16.

Sports Nova Scotia often uses public gyms, as does Volleyball Nova Scotia, Basketball Nova Scotia and Soccer Nova Scotia, among other groups.