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City of Calgary sets tentative date to reopen municipal golf courses

City of Calgary will open golf courses this summer
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi announces the city is aiming for a May 14 opening date for city-owned golf courses.

Golfers in Calgary will soon have more options for hitting the links, as Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Tuesday that staff are working toward a tentative reopening date for some of the city’s golf courses.

“I’m now announcing that we will be opening public golf courses this summer, that the city courses are aiming to open on May 14, and that online bookings are scheduled to open on Monday, May 11 at noon,” the mayor said.

READ MORE: Calgary golf courses ready for hectic opening weekend amid COVID-19 restrictions

“Not everything will be open all at once, we’re focusing on opening core courses and services first.

“Additional courses and ancillary services may come later, and we are following, very strictly, the National Allied Golf Association guidelines at all courses to ensure public safety.” ​

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Nenshi said the tentative opening was dependent on a number of factors, including public safety and ensuring the staff that would be working at the courses would have proper personal protective equipment, including plexi-glass barriers at points of sale.

Power and pull golf carts will be available at the courses that do open, and Nenshi said golfers can only share a power cart if they live in the same home.

Alberta golf courses open with restrictions
Alberta golf courses open with restrictions

The mayor said seasonal employees, who were laid off when the pandemic shut down nearly all city operations and programs, are currently being called back.

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Premier Jason Kenney announced last Thursday that golf courses could open, and many private ones had golfers on the green this weekend. Nenshi said that announcement came as a surprise to the city.

“I will say that I have heard very mixed things from golfers about whether physical distancing was able to be in place and whether the changes that were promised to the rules were fully in place at every single hole at every single course,” the mayor said.

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“And so we’re going to make sure that that happens. And I will remind private golf course operators that they are subject to these rules and subject to bylaw inspection if we are receiving complaints.”

Nenshi said City of Calgary staff worked through the weekend to answer a number of policy questions, including whether it was possible to open courses and when, before deciding it could be done.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Alberta golfers ask Dr. Hinshaw to change her mind and open courses

Nenshi also said that just because the province is moving into a reopening phase of the pandemic, it doesn’t mean the virus is gone away.

“If anything, it means we have to re-double our efforts to ensure that we are staying safe and we are staying disciplined. We’re counting on you every single day,” he said.

Nenshi said he has “not gotten great reports” about the use of skate parks, which opened over the weekend.

“I’ve heard lots of reports that, at the skate parks, people are not physically distancing. Remember: two metres, the length of a full-grown llama or a bicycle, between you. It has to be in place,” Nenshi said.

He said skate parks are dangerous because of the high-tough surfaces, and encouraged users to have hand sanitizer with them and use it regularly.

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“We will close the parks again if we’re seeing public safety problems in those parks,” Nenshi said.

Because contact tracing would be nearly impossible, Nenshi said the city is not at a point where it will open playgrounds, adding that that would still be a little while away.

Businesses reopening

Nenshi said he also thought the province’s decision to allow businesses to reopen on May 14 was a fast one, adding he wondered if two weeks was enough time for businesses to get up to speed on regulations and develop strategies for their workplaces.

“While I’m thankful we’ve got a strategy and and while I think the strategy is by in large fact-based, evidence-driven, and well thought out, there remain many, many, many questions,” the mayor said.

Nenshi wants to be sure businesses are prepared before relaunch
Nenshi wants to be sure businesses are prepared before relaunch

He called on the government to answer a number of questions, including what are the targets to determine if May 14 is going to go ahead, and when next phases will be rolled out.

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For example, Nenshi asked if, if Calgary doesn’t continue to see two weeks of declining cases of the novel coronavirus, would the date be moved back?

He also said he would like to see clarification on how long Albertans will wait for the next phase of reopening, adding that if it were going to roll out within a couple weeks, it would be a mistake.

“The city is interested in ensuring that we are working hand-in-hand with the province on the relaunch strategy, but our main concern continues to be public health,” Nenshi said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Alberta phased relaunch strategy will see some restrictions eased Friday

Nenshi said businesses the city has been hearing from say they’re confused about what they’re meant to do when they do open their doors.

On May 4, Alberta confirmed 70 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 5,836.

— With files from Global News’ Melissa Gilligan