Town making plans for reopening office, restarting some programs

MINTO – Town staff is starting to make plans for the eventual re-opening of the municipal office and other facilities largely shuttered under emergency orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the May 19 council meeting, held via video-conference, CAO Derrick Thomson advised council the town’s health and safety committee has just finished creating “a set of protocols that staff will follow when we’re ready to open the municipal building.”

Thompson said the municipality has placed an order for personal protective equipment and also ordered “sneeze guards” for the front counter.

“It’s just to make sure when we are able to open that we have a safe environment, not only for the public that come in, but for our staff as well,” the CAO explained.

Thomson also said recreation staff is working on plans for re-opening of tennis courts and re-starting lawn blowing, shuffleboard and pickleball programs.

“So we’re working really hard to figure out how we’re going to do that and the protocols around that,” said Thompson.

“But that is some exciting news for the community, to be able to get out and do some non-contact type activities.”

The province announced last week that both indoor and outdoor summer day camps will be allowed to open in July and August “assuming key public health indicators continue to improve.”

Thomson said “there is some indication that some type of summer camp will be expected” and he and recreation services manager Matt Lubbers are working through their networks “to figure out how would we do that, and what would that look like.”

Noting staff are “doing as much preplanning as we can,” Thomson pointed out the situation continues to evolve.

While there are currently no plans to open the town’s outdoor swimming pools in Palmerston and Harriston, he explained, “we don’t know what it’s going to be like in August.

“It could be 40 degrees out in August and I’d hate to say that we’re not opening a pool for people to cool themselves off – if it’s individuals or potentially groups of more than five – so were trying to keep those options open around how we could open them if were directed to.”

Thomson noted changes in restrictions and expectations “are happening in rapid succession” every two or three weeks.

“As anyone who’s worked in recreation knows, it’s sometimes not that easy to set up a program in two or three weeks.”

Thomson said he has talked to other CAOs around the province and while municipalities “are working toward the same goals,” the process of reopening “is not a one-size-fits-all kind of scenario.”