Council delays decision on how to proceed with summer programs

WELLINGTON NORTH – Council here has decided to once again delay its decision on how to proceed with its summer aquatics and summer day camp programs, due to uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

Council voted unanimously to direct staff to bring a recommendation to the June 14 meeting of council on how to proceed with these summer programs.

Council also acknowledged that a decision to proceed with the 2021 aquatics and summer camp programs on June 14 may impact the planned start dates.

A decision on how to proceed with the township’s summer programs had already been pushed from May 4 to May 25, by recreation, parks and leisure committee staff.

Since that time and given the uncertain environment with regard to the pandemic, lockdowns and vaccinations, staff are now recommending that this decision date be postponed until the June 14 meeting of council.

The June 14 date will allow staff to be in the best position to make a positive recommendation to council, consistent with available public health guidance, while still allowing staff to implement safe and healthy programs for the community.

The report from staff described changes the pandemic will make to summer day camps, regardless of the start date:

Some of these changes include smaller cohorts, separate rooms or scheduled times for room use, no field trips, designated pick-up and drop-off locations, as well as daily screening.

Staff have put together a parent/guardian welcome package, which is available online, and are working on updating the policies and procedures as guidelines and regulations are revised.

If the township proceeds with the decision on opening the day camp program on June 14, the report states there will be minimum impacts to the program. Currently the day camp is scheduled to open on July 5.

Councillor Steve McCabe praised the township’s recreation staff for adapting to changes and ensuring that summer day camps and swimming lessons will be ready once allowed to re-open.

“This is such a moving target, to kind of keep pushing everything back and still be at the ready for when hopefully we finally get to re-open and have our residents use our facilities and the pool and the splash pad,” McCabe said.

“Kudos to the whole team and all staff in general, to get ready for what will hopefully be an inevitable opening soon.”

CAO Mike Givens then commented on the province’s recent announcement on the re-opening of splash pads

“June 1 is our typical opening (of splash pads) but openings are typically aligned with when public health comes to do the inspection to say that we can open our splash pads,” Givens said.

“Certainly, the information seems to be that the idea of outdoor activities, including day camps, seem to be a priority for the province.  We’re hopeful around that, but it’s going to be hard to pick a target date until we’re a little further along as it relates to vaccinations.”

Givens said vaccinations will play a major role in re-opening.

“Those that haven’t, please get out there and get vaccinated so we can keep moving along with those targets.”

Mayor Andy Lennox said while he would love to see summer programs be available to the public, there are still steps that must be completed in order to allow them to happen.

“Hopefully we can get there, but I think we understand the challenges with trying to hit those dates,” he said.

“We know that community members need these amenities for their own health and well-being, but we do have to follow the appropriate protocols.”