On Jan 14, Premier Doug Ford announced province-wide stay-at-home, with an exception for exercise. With winter in full force, it is too cold to go out and play soccer or (for some people to) ride a bike in Northern Ontario. However, Sault Ste. Marie City Hall announced that outdoor ice skating facilities will remain open throughout the season but with strict measures.
The Sault is home to three skating rinks; Esposito, Merrifield and Anna McCrea; the Art Jennings Speed Skating Oval and the Clergue Park Skating Trail.
“All indoor community centres remain closed under the order. Outdoor facilities such as parks, trails, toboggan, skate parks and rinks are open for exercise,” said Tessa Vecchio, in conversation with SooToday.
Only groups below six people are permitted and skaters must maintain two meters from anyone outside their household.
“On-site security has been enforcing provincial regulations for safety and limiting how many people can use the facilities at a time,” said Vecchio, who is the Corporate Communications Officer for the City of Sault Ste. Marie.
Users are advised, “to take extra caution and abide by signage, protocols and direction provided by on-site security or staff.”
Provincial rules respecting outdoor facilities are set out in the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Regulations.
Specifically, s. 8.1 allows for a series of “outdoor recreational amenities” to remain open.
Within this list “ice rinks, downhill ski hills, snow tubing hills, tobogganing hills [and] ice skating trails, snow trails” are all winter sport centres that are permitted to remain open.
However, hockey and other organized sports are prohibited. As are classes dedicated to physical activity.
“The City works closely with Algoma Public Health and community stakeholders to monitor its outdoor facilities and responds accordingly,” noted Vecchio.
“It’s important that we continue to provide safe ways to keep active as the pandemic continues.
“We thank everyone for their cooperation during this time.”
All ice skating facilities will be closed at 8 p.m.