While many privately owned businesses could be up and running as soon as Friday, facilities owned by the City of Grande Prairie could take longer. Mayor Bill Given says the okay given by the province as part of phase two of its relaunch doesn’t necessarily mean June 12th will see doors reopen.
“It would be reasonable to say the city will take a cautious approach to this with respect to our own facilities. We want to ensure we can provide a safe operating environment for our staff and for patrons of our facilities.”
Since mass closures began back in March, facilities like the Eastlink Centre, Coca Cola Centre, Grande Prairie Public Library, Revolution Place, and Dave Barr Arena have been inaccessible to all residents. Given says he understands the sentiment of people who would like to see the doors swing open as soon as possible, but it’s simply not that cut and dry.
“We appreciate the community is looking forward to a lot of their recreational activities; we want to find a way to balance those desires in a safe manner than does recognize the fact that we still have to contend with COVID-19, and will have to for the foreseeable future.”
Given adds that administration is also having to strategize as to what to do with the workforce in those buildings. Nearly 400 casual and temporary staff were laid off in March and April, with an additional 45 staff members moved from city-owned recreation facilities to support spring and summer park positions that the city was unable to hire due to the pandemic.
City hall was partially re-opened on June 8th, but only for property owners to pay their taxes in person. More details about the facility reopenings are expected to be discussed in the next couple of weeks.