Thunder Bay Cancels Summer Recreation & Culture and Parks Programs

Is the Water Park more fun than the Video Screen? Seems when it is hot, Lamarith would agree.
It could be a very long summer...especially for kids... Is the Water Park more fun than the Video Screen? Seems when it is hot, Lamarith would agree.

THUNDER BAY – COVID-19 has claimed the City of Thunder Bay’s summer programs.

The City is cancelling certain summer Recreation & Culture and Parks programs and services and reducing its summer student hiring program that supports those services. City Council approved the service level changes tonight.

The Province has extended previous emergency orders made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to June 9, 2020. These orders include redeployment measures for municipalities, closure of recreational facilities and non-essential businesses as well as restrictions on social gatherings, among others.

“While the scaling back of summer operations is disappointing, we are pleased that Administration will keep a close eye as Provincial Orders are lifted with the hope that, depending on the timing, some summer facilities and programs may run such as splash pads and day camps,” said Mayor Bill Mauro. “We are also pleased to have been able to reopen some park areas, amenities and other facilities to allow residents to enjoy the outdoors, using safety measures such as physical distancing.”

City Manager Norm Gale
City Manager Norm Gale

“Due to the Province’s Emergency Orders and uncertainty about health and safety, it’s unfortunate that many of our summer programs and services will no longer be viable as the COVID-19 pandemic response continues,” says City Manager Norm Gale.

The following facilities, services and programs will not operate in summer 2020 as they are significantly affected by current orders, including a high-risk level for virus spread, and have significant lead times and other requirements to resume operations:

Facilities & Amenities

  • Amusement rides (Chippewa Park, Muskeg Express)
  • Outdoor Pools
  • Campgrounds – Chippewa and Trowbridge
  • Port Arthur Stadium

Services

  • Special events licences and permits until July 31
  • Group park & facility bookings until June 28 (rolling cancellation date to cover period two weeks out from any order extension & gathering size changes)

Recreation Programs & Events

  • City Events – Quest Tech & Gaming, Kite Festival, Teddy Bears Picnic
  • Canada Games Complex (CGC)  Group fitness
  • Adventurers Summer Camp (CGC)
  • Registered & Drop-in programs in Recreation & Culture until June 28 (a rolling cancellation date to cover period at least two weeks out from any order extension & gathering size changes)

Other facilities, programs and services such as splash pads and day camps will be considered as Provincial Orders are announced and, depending on timing, require a lead time of two to six weeks to reopen if feasible when the orders are lifted.

These cancellations will result in about 70 students not being hired and impact the City’s financial position, though cost avoidance has already been reflected in prior forecasts. An updated financial report on the municipal impacts of COVID-19 will be before City Council on June 15. This report will include additional cost-containment measures to address lost revenues and increased expenses as a result of COVID-19 that was estimated to generate a loss of $1.1 million a month.

The City has reopened some park amenities and recreation facilities as restrictions are eased by the province. Highlights of reopenings to date include:

  • Strathcona and Chapples Municipal Golf Courses
  • The Thunder Bay Tennis Centre and three courts located in municipal parks
  • Four dog parks located at Beverley, Centennial Park and Buffer, Hillyard, and the Westfort Playfield
  • Recreational boating at the Marina and five local boat launches
  • Chippewa Park which opened May 29
  • Outdoor sports facilities and multi-use fields including 43 baseball diamonds, 17 soccer fields, 18 tennis courts, 20 basketball courts, seven skateboard/BMX parks, six permanent rinks, four pickleball courts, one volleyball court, and one disc golf course
  • Outdoor picnic sites and benches including seven sheltered picnic areas

For listings of individual sites, locations visit the City’s A-Z Service Directory:www.thunderbay.ca/a-z

At all locations physical distancing must be practiced, gatherings are limited to five people, frequent hand washing is recommended, and residents should stay home if they are ill. If an area is busy residents are asked to return at another time.

Under the Province’s emergency orders, playgrounds, outdoor fitness equipment, splash pads, beaches and all indoor recreational facilities remain closed. Organized sports involving teams and close contact are not permitted. Most City facilities remain closed to the public including City Hall.

For the most up-to-date list of service changes, and additional city service information lines, visit www.thunderbay.ca/coronavirus. For public health information, visit:

  • www.ontario.ca/coronavirus – the Ontario Ministry of Health reports on the status of cases in Ontario each morning at 10:30 am.
  • www.TBDHU.COM/coronavirus – the Health Unit’s website contains links to credible sources of information for both the public and local health care providers.