The Trail Aquatic and Leisure Centre (TALC) has been given the green light to open next month.
At the governance meeting on Monday, Trail city council confirmed that a comprehensive TALC Re-opening Strategy will be put into action – just not all at once.
“The first phase of opening is slated to start mid-August with the second phase, if it goes well, mid-September,” said Trail Mayor Lisa Pasin. “There will be reduced hours in August to start us off, and then full facility opening in September.”
Currently in Phase 1, the TALC fitness centre will open first as part of Phase 2. Strict COVID-19 cleaning and sanitizing protocols will be in place, with limited capacity, and reduced hours. Change rooms and showers will remain closed, however, the washrooms will be available for TALC patrons and staff only, not the general public.
In September, Phase 3 will see the aquatic pools and change rooms open, yet, access will be limited, catering to controlled indoor programming such as swim and fitness lessons, parent and tot swims, adult and senior lap swim, lane rental and family swim.
TALC staff encourages residents to purchase a punch pass or season pass to keep touch-points and contact at a minimum. Furthermore, the fitness centre will be separate from the pool and cannot be used on the same day by walk-in users, unless they pay twice.
“Before patrons would come in and you had free access between the gym and aquatics on the same pass or the same visit,” said Pasin. “Now because of capacity limits, we can’t. So we are looking at booking systems, particularly for the gym. Basically if you come in for a pool usage, you will be restricted to the change rooms and the pool, and when you come in for gym usage, you will be restricted to the gym.”
The aquatics opening will be delayed, as it has more moving parts, and staff members will have to re-certify, requiring a longer lead time. Also, as Chief Administrative Officer David Perehudoff pointed out in the report, finding qualified employees may be difficult.
“Securing staff may prove to be challenging given that the TALC has been closed for almost four months and some staff members may have moved on. Further, if previous employees qualify for the CERB, they may be reluctant to return and it is hoped that staffing resources can be secured and effectively retrained to deal with COVID-19 protocols.”
As for TALC season or monthly pass holders, individuals will be asked to reactivate their passes before returning to the facility. Those who aren’t ready or want to wait, can hold off until they feel comfortable, said Pasin.
According to the re-opening strategy, Phase 3 is expected to last at least two months before residents will see Phase 4, a full opening and re-integration of pool and gym.
The city is also undertaking the opening of the Trail Memorial Centre in August and will have ice installed for upcoming hockey camps.
“Recreation services for us is a significant portion of our operations and as much as it takes a lot to shut down a facility during COVID, we’ve always said the start up of the facility is a much more robust process,” said Pasin.
So far, Greater Trail municipalities have done very well in dealing with the pandemic, and following the lead of the Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix.
The opening of the city’s recreation facilities is a positive sign, yet, keeping them so will depend on Greater Trail staff and residents to remain vigilant and responsible.
“I’m really proud of our city staff,” added Pasin. “They’ve done an excellent job with staying informed on what is required and making the appropriate plans to not only keep our city staff safe, but also to keep our citizens safe. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done here, and it’s been a lot of hard work to get us to this point.”