City facilities won't reopen Friday despite province's go-ahead
City manager warns council of 'lag' as staff regroup, facilities brought up to standard
Ontario may be moving ahead with Phase 2 of its reopening plan, but it could be a while before Ottawa's pools, kiosks and other services are ready, the city manager said Wednesday.
"There is going to be a bit of a lag," Steve Kanellakos warned city council.
On Monday, Premier Doug Ford announced the province will allow gatherings of up to 10 people, and gave the green light to a range of businesses, services and facilities to open their doors starting Friday.
- Ontario doubling limit on gatherings, more businesses to reopen in next stage of COVID-19 recovery plan
But that doesn't necessarily mean they will.
In Ottawa, recreation staff made up the majority of the 4,000 employees who were placed on emergency leave, and who now have to be brought back to facilitate the reopening, Kanellakos said.
Dan Chenier, the city's general manager in charge of recreation, said indoor pools were "mothballed and emptied" during the shutdown, and now must be readied for use.
The city is also awaiting further guidance from the province, Chenier said. For example, swimming lessons are still on hold until the province decrees how many students can take part.
Some municipal pools, but not all, should reopen by July 6. The same goes for city beaches at Petrie Island, Westboro and Mooney's Bay, though lifeguards will resume their duties before that date.
Splash pads could reopen by next week, Chenier said, but those, too, await specific direction from the province. Ball diamonds will reopen next week, but only for practices by groups of 10 or fewer. The province has ordered that play structures remain closed.
The city is installing more than 100 sneeze guards and thousands of decals and signs at some client service counters, which should also be back in business by July 6 to issue marriage licences and parking permits by appointment.
Residents won't be required to wear cloth masks except on public transit, but it's recommended, Kanellakos said, echoing advice from the city's medical officer of health, Vera Etches. Most city staff will continue to work from home through Labour Day, Kanellakos said.
The ByWard and Parkdale markets will reopen next week, and all 10 city-run child-care centres should reopen by mid-July.
Mayor Jim Watson said he was glad the Ford government decided to reopen some regions earlier than others.
"This is an important step forward for our city, our residents and our businesses. Let's do this together, and let's do this right," he said.
COVID-19 cases down, testing up
Etches told councillors Ottawa Public Health is confident about moving ahead with Stage 2, noting the number of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and institutional outbreaks in the city are in decline, while testing is accelerating.
"It's been the actions of the people of Ottawa who have made this possible to continue to open up," Etches said.
Asked whether families could now consider visiting with grandparents and having them help with child care, Etches admitted it's an "interesting and awkward time" because while businesses and services are slowly reopening, people are still being advised to remain within their "household bubble."
"Even if you're going to go out and have a group of 10, we have to make sure it isn't a different group of ten every day," Etches advised.