The Village of Clive will install an outdoor skating rink that follows all provincial government COVID-19 guidelines, after hearing the report of their director of emergency management (DEM) at the regular meeting of council Dec. 14.
Councillors heard DEM Tom DeForge’s report on various COVID-19 teleconferences he had participated in, particularly with Alberta Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
Councillors had particularly been curious how current COVID-19 restrictions would affect the village possibly opening an outdoor skating rink.
DeForge stated Dr. Hinshaw encourages outdoor activity, including an outdoor skating rink, and further noted there are consistent rules for such a facility.
DeForge stated the outdoor rink must have boards around it which will accommodate no more than 10 participants from the same household on the ice at one time.
The DEM stated more than 10 people on the ice surface at a time or people from mixed households would be considered a social gathering and that’s not permitted at this time.
He added there was bad news for sports fans: Dr. Hinshaw was adamant that no hockey is allowed.
The DEM stated the question of healthy physical activity versus the risk of transmitting COVID-19 is a difficult one.
“It’s not an easy question to address, certainly,” said DeForge.
DeForge added that it appears the COVID-19 virus is suspended longer and travels farther in cold weather.
Coun. Jeremy Whelan asked how the City of Lacombe is handling outdoor rinks, as he’d heard the city’s outdoor rinks were being used.
Mayor Luci Henry stated she’d heard people are leaving their communities to go to other communities where certain amenities are open. She wondered if Clive keeps its rink closed, will local residents simply leave town and use rinks elsewhere?
Coun. Tracey Hallman stated she was in favour of opening the outdoor rink as local residents want some activity to keep them busy.
Coun. Norma Penney stated she understood the pandemic rules allow skaters showing up separately to participate if they follow social distancing, but showing up in a group is considered a social gathering.
Penney stated she also was in favour of opening the outdoor rink and if the village gets complaints that pandemic rules aren’t being followed, then possibly close it.
Coun. Susan Russell stated that she thought monitoring the rink would be virtually impossible and the village would have to trust people to follow the rules.
Councillors unanimously agreed to install a public outdoor skating rink.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter