Council to decide on proof of vaccination for facility access

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

Fort Frances Town council is to make a decision on whether to require proof of vaccination when accessing the Memorial Sports Centre and the Fort Frances Senior Centre.

The Community Services Executive Committee unanimously agreed with the recommendation of a blanket policy to require all individuals eligible for a vaccine to be fully vaccinated for 14 days prior to being allowed entry into either facility.

This recommendation 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.

Aaron Bisson, culture and recreation manager, 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

Council is expected to make a decision on this item on the first meeting of the month on Monday.