WELLINGTON NORTH – Council here has voted to proceed with the township’s summer 2021 aquatic and summer day camp programs, in compliance with federal, provincial and local health unit guidelines and rules.
Due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, vaccinations, and the province’s reopening schedule, the decision on how to proceed with these summer programs was previously delayed from May 4 to 25 by the township’s recreation, parks and leisure committee staff.
At its May 25 meeting, council delayed the decision once again, voting to direct staff to bring a recommendation to the June 14 meeting on how to proceed.
The decision was delayed in order to give township staff time to make an informed decision based on the current state of the pandemic, vaccinations, and the province’s reopening plan.
“Certainly 18 months ago we never imagined we’d be dealing with these kinds of things, so hats off for the flexibility and trying to make things work,” said Mayor Andy Lennox.
“I noticed splash pads are busy already in this hot weather, and I’m sure people will appreciate a greater variety of options to entertain them than we’ve had in the past year.”
Changes to this year’s summer day camps were first outlined at the May 25 meeting of council.
Some of these changes include smaller cohorts, separate rooms or scheduled times for room use, field trips being limited to destinations such as parks, designated pick-up and drop-off locations, mandatory masks for indoor play, and daily screening.
“There’s a total of eight sessions, with various themes planned,” said Wellington North’s community recreation coordinator Mandy Jones.
Under the Reopening Ontario Act, summer day camps are allowed to open if they operate under the COVID-19 safety guidelines for day camps produced by the office of the chief medical officer of health.
The township’s summer day camps are scheduled to run from July 5 to Aug. 27. The day camp’s age range is five to 12 years (four-year old children can register if they turn five before Dec. 31).
Township staff have planned for smaller cohorts at this year’s day camps. One cohort will operate per location, with a maximum ratio of staff to camp participants of one to 12.
“That will allow us to have up to 24 children per cohort within our day camp, so 48 participants in total for day camp this year,” Jones said.
“This is slightly less than in 2019.”
Currently, the township is recruiting for three day camp instructor positions, which will receive partial funding from the Canada Summer Jobs Grant.
The township has created a COVID-19 reopening plan for the pools in Arthur and Mount Forest.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health was scheduled to visit the Arthur Pool on June 15 to perform a facility inspection, while the Mount Forest Pool inspection has been delayed until early July as staff make required upgrades to the pool liner.
The Arthur Pool is expected to open on June 21 for swimming lessons and other programming, while the Mount Forest Pool is expected to open on July 12.
Since the Mount Forest pool reopening will be delayed, township staff are working to reschedule swimming lessons for those who have already registered. Program registrants will be accommodated at the Arthur Pool or later in the summer in Mount Forest.
Jones said there will be some changes to the township’s aquatic programming this year, including the pool being closed on Sundays.
“This will ensure our staff have adequate time off, and the closure on Sunday will also provide a more consistent schedule for the public,” Jones said.
“We’ve added more family swim and lap swim times later in the afternoon during the week, and we have three, one-hour public swimming sessions on weekdays, and two on Saturdays.”
A staff report noted that operating under provincial and local public health guidelines will cause negative financial impacts to the township during the summer. Revenues will decrease due to reduced capacity, and expenses will increase to allow for COVID-19 protocols to be followed.
Councillor Dan Yake was appreciative of township staff for working hard to organize this summer’s summer aquatic and day camp programs.
“We know it hasn’t been an easy time. It looks like hopefully things are going to move forward here for a little while this summer, so thank you.”
Director of operations Matt Aston added “this is the recommendation that staff has been wanting to bring forward.”