Memorial Sports Centre to operate under tight guidelines

Merna Emara
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

After extended closure of the Memorial Sports Centre, all sport enthusiasts – with strict guidelines – can go back to using the centre’s facilities. The temporary hours of operation will be from 6:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.
The centre officially opened their doors last week on Aug. 5. It will be operating by appointment where patrons have to call in advance before they use the centre’s facilities.
Aaron Bisson, recreation and culture manager, said everyone coming into and leaving the building is required to wear a mask.
“It does not matter if you are coming in to use the gym, the pool or the squash court,” Bisson said. “You have to wear a mask coming in. You do a screening questionnaire at the door. We require everybody to have a contact tracing form filled out in case the health unit requires that information from us.”
The centre will be open by appointment only. Walk-in traffic will not be accepted until further updates are announced.
Bisson said once patrons get to the gym, pool or weight room, they will not be required to wear masks during their workout, but will have to wear their masks again when they are leaving the centre.
Rick Wiedenhoeft, an avid sports enthusiast, said he usually goes to the sports centre five times per week. Wiedenhoeft said he was really happy when the centre opened again.
“Working out has been a part of my life for over 50 years,” Wiedenhoeft said. “When something you are so ingrained in and so used to is taken away for a while, you really miss it. When phase 3 came through the province and they decided to open up the [Sports Centre] I was very happy.”
Wiedenhoeft said he does not see a problem with having to call in advance to book a workout time because it will avoid the inconvenience of having people turned away.
Bisson said appointments can be made up to a week in advance. The Sports Centre will schedule appointments for the pool and gym in blocks at specific times to allow for the staggered intake and the screening of patrons. There will also be dedicated blocks of time to disinfect all tools and equipment between groups.
The gym will be limited to six users per time slot and users will be asked to clean each machine immediately after its use as per COVID-19 guidelines.
“We got guidance from the health unit on our cleaning procedures and the frequency of that,” Bisson said. “We are cleaning to a higher standard than what is required. I think it helps people have a peace of mind that we are going above and beyond to make sure it is safe and sanitary for them.”
Bisson said they will also be limiting pool users to five, 10 or 15 people depending on the activity and whether the time-slot is being booked by families.
As per the guidelines for using the swimming pool, users are asked to come dressed for the pool. There is a shower on the swimming pool deck and users are required to rinse off before they get in the pool.
“They can wear pants or shorts and a shirt over their swimwear and remove them once on the pool deck,” the guidelines said. “The pool area will be accessed by the door beside the lifeguard station and not through the change rooms.”
After finishing using the pool, users are allowed to use the change rooms to change out of their swimwear.
“We ask that patrons do this as quickly as possible and avoid showering if possible, again the shower on the pool deck can be used to rinse off if so desired,” Bisson said. “Only three people will be allowed in the change room at one time, and social distancing is to be practiced.”
Since the physical distancing guidelines will be strictly enforced, Bisson said, the conference rooms are not currently being rented and payments for memberships and registering for classes will be online.