Thunder Bay

City of Thunder Bay announces step three re-opening plans

City of Thunder Bay arenas, recreation centres, pools, and other facilities are getting set to re-open their doors.

Some facilities will open doors in coming days

The city will begin re-opening some of its facilities to the public on Friday. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

City of Thunder Bay arenas, recreation centres, pools, and other facilities are getting set to re-open their doors.

The province will move into step three of its re-opening on Friday. That means city facilities that have been closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic will once again welcome visitors.

But while some facilities will open their doors in the coming days, others will remain closed until the fall.

The city released a schedule for re-openings on Wednesday:

Arenas

  • Current River Arena re-opens July 19 for summer ice.
  • Port Arthur Arena opens Sept. 11.
  • Neebing, Grandview, and Delaney arenas open Sept. 26.
  • The Fort William Gardens will remain closed until early October due to facility improvements.

City-run community centres

  • Vale and Jumbo Gardens open July 16.
  • West Arthur Community Centre re-opens early September.

Aquatics

  • Volunteer Pool re-opens July 19 (limited hours: 6 a.m. to 11 am., Monday to Friday).
  • The Canada Games Complex re-opens July 26 (also with limited hours, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday).
  • Churchill Pool will remain closed for maintenance until early October.

Calli Graham, the city's supervisor of aquatics, wellness, children and youth, said the reduced hours are due to a lifeguard shortage.

"We've had staffing issues nationwide for quite a while before the pandemic," she said. "We started looking into different ways that we can entice people to become lifeguards, and get into our programs."

"Unfortunately, with the pandemic, it created a more severe shortage, because with swimming pools being closed, we were unable to offer any of the certification courses leading up to becoming a lifeguard."

The timing of the re-opening is also making the issue worse, as most of the lifeguards working at city pools are students.

"They need to find summer jobs, so they can put themselves through school," she said. "And they have found other summer jobs that they've already currently been committed to working. So they're unable to come back until September."

Graham said lifeguard training courses are resuming, and the city is working to promote lifeguarding and find ways to subsidize the required training courses. The hope, she said, is to train enough lifeguards to allow city pools to operate on regular hours by September.

Older Adult Centres

  • Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre re-opens Aug. 3 (that includes the River Street Cafe, billiard room, and library).
  • Seniors programs at the 55 Plus Centre and West Arthur Community Centre will resume on Sept. 13.

In addition, the city said in-person Youth Inclusion Programs are set to resume in August, while the Centennial Botanical Conservatory will re-open its doors on July 21.

Restrictions on outdoor gatherings at cemeteries will be lifted as of Friday, but physical distancing is still required (cemetery office visits require appointments).

Victoriaville Centre and McKellar Mall will expand public access through all doorways on Friday, and the mall will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. Eat-in dining will be available at the mall's food court, but physical distancing must be maintained.

Visitor restrictions at Pioneer Ridge will be lifted as of Friday, as well: fully-immunized and asymptomatic staff, caregivers and visitors will no longer require a COVID-19 test prior to entering the facility.

Pioneer Ridge staff are also working on a plan to reduce restrictions on resident outings, and allow activities such as dancing and singing to resume.

Other facilities will remain available to the public:

  • Marina and boat launches.
  • Golf courses and the Chapples outdoor patio.
  • Fort William Stadium.
  • Skate parks.
  • Sports fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, and Tennis Centre.
  • Playgrounds.
  • Dog parks.
  • Trowbridge and Chippewa campgrounds.
  • Outdoor fitness at select community centres.
  • Outdoor pools, beaches and splash pads.
  • Summer camps and the playgrounds program.

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