Council approves vaccination requirement to use the sports centre

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

Monday afternoon, Fort Frances Town council approved the request submitted by Aaron Bisson, culture and recreation manager, to have patrons provide proof of double vaccination before accessing the Memorial Sports Centre and the Fort Frances Senior Centre.

Effective Sept. 22, patrons, contractors, spectators and visitors who use the sports centre will be required to have to show proof that they received the second dose of the vaccine at least 14 days ago in order to access the facility. This will not impact children under 12 years of age who are not yet eligible to get vaccinated.

This recommendation from the Community Services Executive Committee comes after the Ontario government has announced that starting Sept. 22, proof of double vaccination of those 12 years of age and older will be required to enter restaurants, meeting and event spaces and sports facilities such as gyms and recreational facilities.

Bisson said in a report to council that the town has two options to consider when screening customers and users to ensure they are fully vaccinated, as per the provincial government announcement.

The first option is to follow the guidelines mandated by the province to screen users to ensure full vaccination. However, this option would not mandate parents or guardians who are coming in to watch their children’s games since they are not using the facility.

“Potentially, we could have a person come to our building to watch their child play hockey or figure skating, and be allowed to do that without requiring a vaccination,” Bisson said. “And then they could come the next day to use our pool or squash courts or the gym and be denied because they’re not fully vaccinated.”

Bisson said avoiding this would be in the best interest of everyone, especially for students who are screening users at the front desk.

“It’s going to be very difficult for our staff to deal with that, because it’s going to be hard for somebody to understand why they can come in for one reason, but can’t come in for another,” Bisson added.

Coun. Andrew Hallikas said he fully supports the second option because they have to not only reconcile themselves with what the province is supporting, but to also set an example locally.

“I don’t want to see our employees put in an awkward situation, having to decide who comes and who gets an exception,” Hallikas said. “I like the blanket option number two.”

Bisson said the museum is not currently listed to require proof of full vaccination because it is listed as a retail space. On the other hand, if somebody were to rent a meeting space at the museum, proof of vaccination would be required to use that part of the building and the library as well, Bisson added.

Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft also supported the second option, saying he believes that people need to get vaccinated to shut down this latest variant, which will motivate certain people to do that.

The vaccination certificate, along with a government-issued ID will be used to access settings that require proof of vaccination.

On Oct. 22 the province will introduce an Enhanced Vaccine Certificate with a QR code and the QR code verification app for businesses.

Kaleed Rasheed, Associate Minister of Digital Government, said Ontarians will have the choice to either download the QR code or use their printed receipt.