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Coronavirus: No firm date to reopen the Cobourg Community Centre

Signage posted at the entrance of the Cobourg Community Centre.
Signage posted at the entrance of the Cobourg Community Centre. Mark Giunta/Global News

The Cobourg Community Centre (CCC) has been closed since late March and will likely be opening soon as the municipality enters the final stage of its reopening plans for the facility.

But officials say it’s a complicated process to go through all considerations to ensure the safety of staff and the public, as well as how programs will operate within the guidelines and regulations of the provincial government.

“Those regulations are requiring some interpretation. There are discussions going on province-wide about recreational facilities in terms of maximum capacities of participants and spectators of multi-purpose facilities,” said Dean Hustwick, director of community services for the Town of Cobourg.

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Northumberland County is in Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan, which allows gatherings of up to 100 outside and 50 inside, with required physical distancing enforced.

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However, exact numbers on how many spectators and participants can be in a multi-use facility is still not defined.

“That’s one of the challenges of a large facility such as the Cobourg Community Centre. How do we operate all of these different activities simultaneously while respecting the maximum number of participants and ensuring physical distancing and overall safety for everyone involved?” Hustwick said.

The Cobourg Cougars of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) are the main tenant of the CCC in the fall and winter seasons.

The Junior A team would normally start the regular season in September, though the upcoming 2020-21 season remains up in the air at this point.

It’s not known yet if the team will need its ice time anytime soon.

“We’re in constant discussions with all of our major user groups as well as others.  We’re getting calls all the time from regular program participants,” Hustwick said. “We’re also doing a survey of recreational users to better understand what their expectations and hopes are in terms of when they would like to return to the facility and what types of programs they will be interested in. It’s a collaborative process to reopen the facility.”

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The Town of Cobourg is collaborating with staff, other local municipalities, local health officials and the province on reopening the facility, which has two ice pads, gyms and gathering spaces.

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It will likely reopen the facility in phases by reintroducing programs that are easier to implement and manage first.

“When it reopens, it will be done in a professional and safe manner,” he said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Cobourg and Port Hope working on reopening amenities

To the west in Port Hope, the Jack Burger Sports Complex (JBSC) on July 6 reopened for swimming on an appointment-only basis.

“We started our opening with a few swims by reservation, so we have some lane swims and family and public swims, which are popular,”  said Julia Snoek, community development program manager. “Since then, we have added the option for swim lessons. We have week-at-a-time options for parents to register their kids for lessons, five days a week or for the rest of the summer, once a week.  We are also starting to offer some aquafitness classes on a drop-in basis.”

The swimming lessons and aquafit classes restarted July 27.

For a public swim, only 25 people can be in the pool at one time and 10 people for lane swimming.

Reservations are for up to 45 minutes in the pool.

Change rooms are being assigned with cleaning protocols stepped up during a half-hour buffer between times.

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“It’s about managing the distancing within the pool and also within the change rooms,” Snoek said. “Our cleaning protocols are intense. Our staff have been working together to manage all of that and our patrons have been receptive to that. It’s been going very well.”

For most levels of swimming lessons, parents must be in the pool with their children and will count toward the overall capacities.

The pool has smaller numbers in classes and has divided the small pool into three segments, she said. “We have space in the lobby as well for supervision and it’s done on numbers of registration.”

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The ice would normally be installed on the rink side of the JBSC after Labour Day, but that schedule is up in the air right now.

“We’ve been working with our ice user groups and our neighbouring communities to look at when the schedule would proceed for the ice,” Snoek said.

“We’re still working through if that schedule is something we will maintain. It’s based on the return-to-play plans we’re working on with our user groups including the Northumberland Minor Hockey Association, the Junior C Port Hope Panthers, and other hockey groups and figure skating groups.”

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The timeline for installing the ice will likely be released next week.

Like the Town of Cobourg, the Municipality of Port Hope is still waiting for confirmation on guidelines for maximum capacities on spectators versus participants.

“We’re anticipating some direction from Ontario Minor Hockey Association next week. The leagues will have different processes throughout the province. We hope to have some more information shortly.”