Are Municipalities in Northumberland County Allowing User Groups In The Red Zones To Use Municipal Buildings/Arenas?

In City Hall, Editor Choice, Local

With areas to the west of Northumberland County entering into the “red zone” this week, Today’s Northumberland reached out to each municipality, township and the local health unit to ask if they have concerns with people/groups in the red zones entering areas of Northumberland County and also if the municipality/township has rented arenas or municipal buildings to any user groups in the red zones.  Out of seven municipalities/townships in Northumberland County, two (Port Hope/Cobourg) are allowing groups within the red zone to use their facilities.

Below are the questions and answers we received on Wednesday, November 25, 2020.

TN: Is it advisable municipalities allow people from regions that are in the red zone in the province to rent municipal buildings such as hockey arenas in our region (Northumberland County)?

Chandra Tremblay, Manager, Corporate Services; Communications and IT, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit
The province has stated that individuals and families in higher transmission areas should avoid travel to lower transmission areas (for example, from red to orange, from yellow to green), except for essential reasons. As well, under the COVID-19 Response Framework, people who live in red or grey zones are asked to make trips outside of the home only for essential reasons (work, school, groceries/pharmacy, health care, assisting vulnerable individuals or exercise and physical activity).
As the number of cases continues to rise within the jurisdiction of the HKPR District Health Unit, we will be reaching out to area municipalities to further review the province’s COVID-19 Framework and discuss if additional steps can be taken to further mitigate the spread of the virus.

Today’s Northumberland also reached out to Mayor’s in Northumberland County and asked a question.
Today’s Northumberland is reaching out to Mayor’s of Northumberland County.
During COVID-19 there have been areas considered as “red” zones in Ontario including Toronto and Durham Regions.
Today’s Northumberland is looking into the possibility of (hockey) arenas being rented out to organizations from red zone regions.
As a Mayor, we would like to know your thoughts on this and if arenas (or other municipal buildings) in your area have been rented to organizations in the red zone areas.
Below are the replies we received from area municipalities and townships.

 

Municipality of Port Hope Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture Jim McCormack
To date, we have not restricted use of our facilities based solely on geographic location of a person or user-group who has requested a rental, registered for a program or reserved a space for a drop in program.

Given that some regions of the Province have been placed under greater restrictions than others, we have reached out to the Health Unit (our governing authority during the pandemic) for direction with respect to whether or not we are required to restrict use of our facilities and programming to those who live in a red zone region.

Additionally, we are seeking guidance on the parameters around user-groups who have been previously approved to rent facility spaces via their Return to Play Plan who live in Red Zones or zones that are under shutdown. This would include the Clarington girls hockey teams you referred to who have been renting our facility since October.
While we are waiting on guidance from the Health Unit, we are also consulting with colleagues from other municipalities, to inquire about their best practices for these scenarios.

To provide you with additional context, I will share that we have strict protocols in place for all municipal rentals. Each user-group must complete and submit a Return to Play Plan prior to their booking and this Plan is reviewed and approved by our staff as well as the Health Unit (who provides final approval). If the Return to Play Plan is approved, all members of the user-group must also adhere to the same screening protocols that are in place for all people who enter a municipal facility. The screening protocols include:
• Signing-in upon arrival (for contract tracing purposes)
• answering questions about their current health (presence of COVID-19 symptoms)
• answering questions about exposure to someone who has COVID-19 symptoms
• answering questions about previous exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19

No one is permitted to enter a building if they have COVID-19 symptoms, have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms or if they have been exposed to someone with a known positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

NOTE:In a follow-up McCormack confirmed Clarington girls teams have been regularly renting since October and have it booked for the coming weekend)

 

Cobourg Mayor John Henderson (UPDATE)
In consultation with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit and in alignment with the province’s Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework the Town of Cobourg continues to proactively screen and contact trace all recreational organizations, visitors and facility users of the community centre.

Our goal first and foremost is to ensure public health measures are being met to limit the spread of COVID-19 while also striving to keep our recreational facilities open to help promote the wellbeing of our community.

To that extent our community centre is currently not accepting any new programming requests at this time.

Communications Director with the Municipality of Cobourg has provided an update –  Cobourg Cougars are NOT travelling to Whitby for games.  But Whitby has played in Cobourg.   Today’s Northumberland was given incorrect information previously and corrected as soon as we received the update.

 

Hamilton Township Manager of Parks and Facilities Trevor Clapperton
Currently all of the arena rentals in Hamilton Township consist of historical users and organizations that were here in the past. We are not accepting any new rentals from red zones at this time.
Historically we’ve had minor hockey teams from Newcastle and on occasion a girls team from Clarington, but not this year.

 

Alnwick/Haldimand Township Mayor Gail Latchford
I just confirmed with staff that A/H has not rented arena or facilities to any groups west of Northumberland. All are within the county with the exception of 3 at arena from Quinte West.

I will be discussing with Council at Thursday’s meeting.

Results will be good to know.

 

Township Of Cramahe Parks, Recreation and Facilities Lead Hand Greg Metcalfe
Since we have started renting ice in September all of the ice rentals has been from Northumberland & Quinte West.

The (OWHA) Ontario Women’s Hockey Association did get approval to start playing 4 on 4 with other health regions.

Teams that are in control (Red) or lockdown (Grey) zones are not permitted to participate in modified games or scrimmages in other parts of the province. (OWHA) only had one game which was Cold Creek Comets vs Whitby before Durham region went into control (Red).

To answer the question The Keeler Centre has not rented ice to any organizations that are in red or grey zones.

That has been our policy since the start if we had any Toronto (hot spots) organizations looking for ice down here, keeping Northumberland safe is our first priority.

 

Municipality of Brighton Mayor Brian Ostrander
As you know, Brighton is a welcoming community with a local economy that depends on both the people who live here and those who visit to engage with our local businesses.

We are fortunate to live where we do, on so many levels, and certainly recognize why people would want to visit Brighton and return again and again.

That said, as we manage our way through the public health protocols, as a result of the global pandemic and its affects across the province and country, we must take a cautious approach in order to keep Brighton safe and healthy.

It is my preference that people from outside our health, not join us at this time so that we may all be able to welcome them again when it is safer to do so.

Brighton has established protocols to ensure the safety of our Staff and the users of our facilities.

These protocols are based upon best management practices and advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and approved by the Municipality’s Health and Safety Committee.

I can confirm that we have had no requests for rentals from groups outside of our health unit area and that given our current schedule, we would not be able to manage additional bookings at this time, given the current level of bookings by local organizations.

People living in the various Health Units, particularly in the Lockdown, Red, Orange regions must be respectful of the recommendations of the Medical Officer of Health, including travel requests that they not travel outside of their health unit areas at this time. Everyone must do their part to keep us all safe and healthy.

 

Mayor of the Municipality of Trent Hills, Bob Crate
We have not rented our arenas to groups from outside our area. We are in the planning stage for the fieldhouse and this is one of the considerations that we are looking at.

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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