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Optimism that ice sports will return to Hay River in mid-October

The next step in the gradual reopening of the Hay River Community Centre – planned for Oct. 12 pending GNWT approval – would include the curling rink and arena, which on Sept. 25 was still devoid of ice.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

The recreation director with the Town of Hay River is optimistic that ice sports will be restarting soon.

On Sept. 22, Stephane Millette gave town council an update on the step-by-step reopening of the Hay River Community Centre which has already begun, with the next proposed step being the reopening of the arena and the curling rink in mid-October.

"We are awaiting official confirmation on our next step, which would be step three in our reopening," said Millette. "And that would involve the ice surfaces. I was in touch with the local environmental health officer today (Sept. 22). We had good discussions. Most of our plan is essentially approved."

Millette said there are some items still being discussing.

"Our reopening of the ice surface on Oct. 12 still seems like a realistic and even a conservative deadline," he said.

Millette also noted he had good discussions with the environmental health officer on the plan to reopen the swimming pool.

The recreation director said a second draft of the plan aligns well with Fort Smith's swimming pool reopening plan, which was approved in mid-September.

"And it should allow us to have the pool open. Our original date was Nov. 9, but I think that might be a conservative date and we might be able to reopen even earlier than that if all goes well," said Millette.

The Hay River Community Centre closed to the public in March because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Sept. 16, the walking track and the customer service desk reopened.

"Residents are trickling in," Millette told council. "There are on average four or five people using the walking track per day, but it's increasing daily and we're hearing from people that the word is getting out and it sounds like people are happy that the walking track is back open."

The walking track, lobby and rental halls reopened with a limitation of 25 people in each location because of Covid-19.

At this point, the community centre is open to the public from Monday to Friday.

Afterschool programs have begun at the curling rink, and fitness classes have also begun at the community centre.

The Sub on the Hub concession in the community centre is also now offering a dine-in option with more tables in the community hall and access to washrooms.

"I think the operators and the public are happy with the option being offered," said Millette.

As the community centre is gradually reopening, he noted that many of the town's outdoor programs are shutting down for the winter.

The Fisherman's Wharf pavilion was transitioned to its fall and winter setup with the outside walls being installed and the building winterized.

"It is available for rental in the fall and winter months with additional costs regarding the additional setups and the cost for propane," said Millette.

The Porritt Landing season officially closed on Sept. 15.

"We're still waiting on Porritt Landing retaining wall repairs," said Millette. "Water levels are still too high for those repairs. We are doing some prep work and we're planning for this year's dredging, but we can't just proceed with the retaining wall repairs at this point."