If you were awake and outside or even near a window as Wednesday turned into Thursday, you may have noticed that the thermostat dipped into single digits as the temperature was just 9 C for a couple of hours.
Summer is making its exit North of 60 as the familiar grip of fall appears for its brief climatic cameo before winter whooshes in. As the seasonal winds of change pick up, the mind wanders to the recreation options available to Yellowknifers. Opportunities to continue to enjoy the outdoors – from cross-country skiing and kick-sledding to ice fishing and snowmobiling – abound and will continue to surround us.
And, of course, some facilities have returned to a degree of operation, notably the Fieldhouse and the city’s tennis courts. But there’s a whole swath of activities that won’t be available because there isn’t a reopening plan for the facility they usually take place in approved by the chief public health officer.
There’s some mystification as to why this is. Yellowknifer received a tip earlier this week that the swim club is in the dark because they can’t budget or plan events for the season if they don’t know how many people will be allowed in the pool. If a plan for that facility has been submitted, it hasn’t been approved, nor shared with the public.
Likewise, some Yellowknife basketball leagues that usually host games in high school gyms have been playing outdoors at Mildred Hall, when the weather allows it. If you’re wondering why there’s no basketball or volleyball happening around the city, it’s not because those sports are in a later phase of Emerging Wisely than soccer or tennis, it’s because there’s nowhere to play them.
School gyms fall within the purview of the school boards that own the buildings, but the city manages the rentals thereof after hours. Of course, the pool is also the responsibility of the city, which is preoccupied right now with masks and public transit.
When we get back to the darkest of weeks, the world will have been reeling from this pandemic for the better part of a year. It won’t be like March and April, when we passed the time in a collective state of shock with in-home activities, crafts and virtual versions of everything, with the anticipation that maybe this coronavirus outbreak thing would peter out next week or the week after and all we had to do was hang on until the warmer weather arrived.
This time around, Yellowknifers will be staring down a long, cold winter with the sober reality that Covid-19 is here to stay, despite the fact that for the NWT, it hasn’t been. The entertainment of professional sports returning to the airwaves is a welcome vicarious respite but Northerners need recreational outlets of their own. Adults with intense occupations need to unwind. Children need exercise and healthy habits, to learn about fair play, following rules and instructions, and teamwork. Or how about leadership, volunteerism and charity, not to mention nutrition and hydration, sportsmanship, socialization or self-esteem?
Nothing delivers all of those lessons and benefits more efficiently to a wider demographic than organized sports. Hopefully the powers that be won’t be so run off their feet this fall that our indoor recreational facilities stay silent and shuttered until the spring.