City of Red Deer closes recreational facilities amidst COVID-19

The City of Red Deer announced its closing recreational facilities Sunday afternoon amid COVID-19.

All City of Red Deer recreation and culture facilities will temporarily close to the public to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) effective at closing time of each facility Sunday.

The decision was made in alignment with Alberta Health’s recommendation to cancel all K-12 and post-secondary classes in the province and to promote social distancing and minimize the potential spread of COVID-19. There are no confirmed cases of the virus in Red Deer, according to Alberta Health Services, and the risk to residents remains low.

The city will temporarily close Collicutt Centre, G.H. Dawe Community Centre, Recreation Centre, Michener Aquatic Centre, Servus Arena, Kinsmen Community Arenas, Kinex Arena, Setters Place at Great Chief Park, Intermediate School Site (Culture Services Centre) and all leased spaces within city operated recreation and culture facilities including food vendors, retail stores and private recreation providers will be closed.

“As our citizens are aware, we have convened City of Red Deer emergency operations centre to respond to the evolving issue of COVID-19,” said Mayor Tara Veer, adding the city activated the emergency operations centre March 13 at level 1.

“And as of today we’re now moving to level 2 of our emergency operations centre,” she said.

The decision means enhanced staffing in order to respond to issues as they emerge and to be able to do so in a timely manner.

City’s decisions are in alignment with recommendations from the province, the mayor added.

This pandemic will no doubt have economic impact on the city’s local economy, said Veer.

“Having said that, our absolute top priority is to make decisions in the interest of public health,” said Veer.

Earlier Sunday Red Deer’s Northside Community Centre closed to the public until further notice.

The closure does not apply to spaces that have an external public access such as the Red Deer Public Library (G.H. Dawe branch), Exalta Gymnastics and Red Deer Minor Hockey Association office.

The city is in communication with contractors operating city facilities including Heritage Ranch, Bower Ponds, Red Deer Museum & Art Gallery and neighbourhood activity centres, however business decisions remain with the individual operators.

“This was a difficult decision, but it’s in the best interest of our residents and city employees,” said Karen Mann, Emergency Operations Centre Director with the City of Red Deer. “While we don’t know how long these closures will last, we want to assure residents and staff that our first priority is, and always will be, your health and safety. We will continue to be guided by the province’s public health officials in taking actions to protect the public.”

Some city facilities and services remain open to the public at this time (city hall, RCMP detachments and Sorenson Station and Red Deer transit service), however with potentially amended service levels.

The city will continue to update the community daily just like the province.

“It is imperative that we take seriously Alberta Health’s request that we maintain social distance but that we not socially isolate,” said Veer.

“We will either pull together or pull apart, and my hope is that as a community and province we will choose to pull together and do what is right and in the best interest of the health and safety of all of our fellow Albertans and Red Deerians.”

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