The inclusion of many public facilities including public pools in Phase 2 of the Alberta Relaunch plan caught the City of Lacombe “a little flat-footed”.
Chief Administrative Office Matt Goudy said the City currently isn’t in a position to reopen the Kinsmen Aquatic Centre due to temporary layoffs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
“We will need time to get them back and also get the facilities ready for public access,” he said.
Goudy said the City also needs to gauge whether there is a public want for the pool to reopen. For the City, it would not make financial sense to reopen if their are very low usage rates.
“It does no one benefit to open a pool for no users staffed by employers who in many cases may be better off financially continuing to access some of the federal programs rather than part time work for the City,” he said.
Financially, the pool and other recreation facilities are run as city-subsidized services — so there is no financial need to reopen given that the loss of user fees are more than offset by lesser need for staffing and utilities.
”There is a cost to this and that is something we are considering. With the overall subsidy of a pool and other rec facilities, the additional cost of PPE isn’t going to be a big thing,” he added.
Goudy said the City’s senior staff is currently having meetings to decide when opening recreation facilities makes the sense for the community.
“Should we be looking at weeks or should we be looking at the return to school in the fall? I don’t know,” he added.
Goudy and his team currently have the the go-ahead from council to make decisions regarding the opening and closing of public facilities but there is dialogue between the two entities.
“Council is comfortable with our staff making the decision but I am sure they will let me know if that changes,” he said.
Alternatively, Goudy said the Lacombe Memorial Centre will be able to accomodate larger group bookings much quicker.
“We are renting it out now for gatherings and meetings that meet provincial requirements,” he said. “With the relaxed standards, that will allow us to host a lot more events. You have some time to plan for an events center, whereas with the pool if we are to open we have to have lifeguards and we need to make sure it is safe for people to use.”
He added,”We are really happy to see we are in a position to see the relaunch advanced. We want to be sure we are ready to offer the services when people ask for them.”