Stephane Millette, the Town of Hay River’s recreation director, was scheduled to present a plan to council on May 19 on reopening outdoor recreational facilities after the GNWT eased its Covid-19 restrictions. Millette is pictured last week in the closed Tri-Service Playground, one of the facilities to be affected by the plan.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

The Town of Hay River will likely decide this week on how it plans to reopen outdoor recreational facilities.

That would be a result of Emerging Wisely, the GNWT’s multi-phased strategy released last week on how to ease restrictions combating Covid-19.

The first phase of the GNWT’s plan will include allowing mass gatherings outdoors – with capacity limits and other restrictions – for recreational facilities, outdoor fields, farmer’s markets, campgrounds, golf courses, beaches, boat launches and playgrounds.

“I think it gives a good framework for us to be able to bring recreation opportunities and healthy and active living options for the community,” said Stephane Millette, the recreation director with the town. “And I think right now is a time when residents are going to need and appreciate those services that much more.”

Speaking on May 15, Millette said the GNWT strategy would have a big impact on outdoor recreational facilities in the community.

“As of right now, we’re still studying the document so we can come up with an action plan,” he said, noting he has been trying to figure out the impact in consultation with the town’s senior management, the recreation staff and sports groups.

Millette would not go into any detail on what might be in the town’s action plan, noting he was to present it to town council at its online meeting on May 19.

People can watch that presentation on You Tube.

Millette said he will hopefully be able to communicate the action plan to the public after the presentation, depending on council’s reaction and if any adjustments are required.

In general, the recreation director noted that reopening outdoor recreational facilities will not mean a return to business as usual before Covid-19.

“It’s going to be a while before it’s business as usual,” he said.

Millette said outdoor recreational facilities will only be allowed to reopen if they meet the requirements in Emerging Safely, like social distancing and limitations on the maximum number of people.

Many of the conditions for reopening are not really up to the town’s recreation department, he noted. “We prepare the facilities, but we need user groups and community partners who use them to confirm that they can make the necessary adaptations to use them.”

Millette noted that some of those adaptations will be suggested by the national and territorial organizations for various sports.

“The rec department’s role is going to be to work with those local sport organizations to try to help so that our facilities can meet the requirements and meet the accommodations that they’ll need to make if they want to go forward with their sport,” he said.

Millette believes it is likely that softball/slopitch can return under the guidelines of Emerging Wisely, noting that the national organizations will have to provide modified rules.

“And if the local sport group thinks that they can operate under those rules, the ball diamonds will be available,” he said. “We’re already planning for an increased level of service at the ball diamonds. Emerging Wisely does allow for softball to return under phase one.”

Indoor recreational facilities in Hay River will remain closed.

Emerging Wisely targets reopening such indoor facilities in its phase two in mid to late June, including swimming pools for instruction certification.

Pools would reopen to the public in phase three of Emerging Wisely at a time to be determined.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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