By Pat Payton
Due to health concerns from the outbreak of the Coronavirus, mayor Al Strathdee and town council held an emergency meeting Saturday morning and decided to indefinitely close the Pyramid Recreation Centre (including the arenas and pool).
In an interview with the Independent, Strathdee said the ice in both pads is being taken out for at least three to four weeks. The process apparently began this past weekend.
“We made a bunch of decisions, and passed our pandemic plan,” the mayor told the newspaper. “We’ve decided to take the ice out for now.
“From a cost perspective, it’s cheaper for us to take it out. We figure it’s going to be four weeks, but we have to see what happens. The mechanics of running it with no patrons doesn’t make sense economically. Every level of hockey has been cancelled, but there is the Easter (No-body contact) tournament and we’re aware of that.”
In the current situation, Strathdee said anyone playing hockey in the facility wouldn’t be covered by liability insurance.
“Anyone who is sanctioned by minor hockey or the Jr. ‘B’ Lincolns, if they were to play, they don’t have insurance,” he said. “That’s the big elephant in the room. We’ve been told that insurance wouldn’t cover a private tournament, but things could change.”
“The problem is, this thing is real and everything keeps changing so quickly. We’re trying to take some proactive measures to try and slow it down. Then the health care system can handle it. It’s a tough situation, and we’re doing our best to keep ahead of it.”
In an interview with the newspaper last Friday, the mayor explained that Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams has determined that communities where more than 250 people gather at a time must have screening in place.
“We don’t have the resources to do screening, so we’re closing the PRC to events,” Strathdee said. “At the PRC, there can be well over 1,000 people go through there on weekends. And the Chief Medical Officer of Health is saying, ‘unless you’re screening all those people, you shouldn’t be opening your doors.’ So the reality is, we don’t have the facilities to screen all those people.”
“The last number I saw was something like 6,500 people a week go through the (PRC) facility.”
The town has also closed the library, the museum, the Friendship Centre and Youth Centre, the mayor told the Independent.
“Our daycare (at Holy Name of Mary school) was closed by the school board,” he said. “They own and control the building. They sent us an email and told us to be out of the building by 5:30 p.m. (Friday) and you can’t come back for three weeks. So we’re out of the daycare business for three weeks. The decision was made for us.”
“We’ve been in touch with Huron County and all their community centres are closing as well.”
Long-term, Strathdee said employment of the town staff could be affected.
“We talked about our staffing plan,” he noted Saturday. “Everyone is going to have a job for this week, and then we’ll evaluate. We’re going to have alternate duties, there’s always stuff to do. But we don’t know how long that will last.”
“There will be some announcements this week going forward.”
By Pat Payton