Sixteen Ottawa city councillors signed a letter sent to Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Thursday morning calling for a return of outdoor recreational activities amid the COVID-19 stay-home order.
The letter specifically calls for reopening golf courses and tennis and pickleball courts — sports that lend themselves to physical distancing. It also suggests that golfers could be encouraged to only play with members of their household.
But it goes on to throw support behind basketball and skateboarding as well, provided mask-wearing and physical distancing are in place.
The letter, sent to reporters Thursday morning by Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans, argues that bringing back outdoor activities can be a boost to help residents stay physically active and maintain their mental health during the third wave of the pandemic.
“We are supportive of fair, reasonable, and evidence-based measures that will lead to better health outcomes. We feel that the benefits to the physical and mental health and well-being of re-opening outdoor recreational activities far outweigh the risks associated with keeping them closed.”
Golf courses and tennis courts were among new restrictions added to the province’s shutdown measures when the stay-home order was extended by another two weeks as of April 16.
Golfers have been frustrated by the closures with some courses even opening in protest of the rules.
Some epidemiologists have also questioned the decision, noting that outdoor activities tend to be safer than indoor when proper COVID-19 protocols are followed.
In addition to Deans, the letter is signed by the following councillors:
- Coun. Eli El-Chantiry, West Carleton-March
- Coun. George Darouze, Osgoode
- Coun. Jan Harder, Barrhaven
- Coun. Matthew Luloff, Orléans
- Coun. Mathieu Fleury, Rideau-Vanier
- Coun. Catherine Kitts, Cumberland
- Coun. Catherine McKenney, Somerset
- Coun. Tim Tierney, Beacon Hill-Cyrville
- Coun. Riley Brockington, River
- Coun. Laura Dudas, Innes
- Coun. Rawlson King, Rideau-Rockcliffe
- Coun. Glen Gower, Stittsville
- Coun. Theresa Kavanagh, Bay
- Coun. Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi
- Coun. Rick Chiarelli, College