The City of Grande Prairie says the decision to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program at multiple recreation facilities is meant to keep them operating as close to normal as possible.
Starting Monday, proof of COVID-19 vaccination, a recent negative test result, or documentation of medical exemption will be required at the Eastlink Centre, the Coca Cola Centre, the Bonnetts Energy Centre, and the Dave Barr Community Centre for anyone aged 12 and up unless they are within a youth user group.
City Manager Horacio Galanti says the decision hinged on several factors, including revenue and overall accessibility for residents.
“One option was to keep the facility operating at just one-third of the capacity according to the fire code, which is a very low number of users… the other was to implement the Restriction Exemption Program,” he says.
“With the new restrictions, as well travel is likely more restrained I’d say in the area, so probably more people are just in town trying to enjoy our facilities… with the decision to go that route, we’re going to allow more users to access our facilities.”
The change will officially go into effect next week, but Galanti says there will be an initial grace period as residents may need time to print or screenshot the appropriate information.
“The direction for administration was to be flexible during the first week… we are aware of the provincial system backlogged significantly,” Galanti adds.
Mayor Jackie Clayton is urging residents to continue to support one another as the city follow the restriction options laid out by the provincial government.
“Support each other, and support the people operating [the] facilities,” she says. “The Restrictions Exemption Program will be challenging and may take some time to adapt to, but council believes this is the best option to continue to keep our doors open for regular use of our facilities while continuing to ensure the health and safety of all our patrons.”
The city is also encouraging people to create an online registration account on its website to make it easier to check in to the affected facilities.