Thunder Bay City Administration Doubles Down on Outdoor Hockey Rinks

Flooding outdoor ice rink in Current River
Flooding outdoor ice rink in Current River - Stock image Pre-Covid-19

Thunder Bay – NEWS – The City of Thunder Bay Administration appears to be stepping up enforcement of the measures at local outdoor hockey rinks. This comes despite moves by the Mayor and City Councillors at Monday’s meeting to keep the nets on the outdoor rinks.

The city is reminding residents that the Provincial Order issued on Dec. 21, 2020 states, in part, that permitted outdoor recreational amenities may only open if people can maintain a physical distance of two metres from one another, and sports, or other sports or games where people may come within two metres of each other, are not practiced or played within the amenity.

In an effort to continue to have city-run outdoor rinks and ponds available to the public, skaters must follow Ontario’s rules and restrictions, including physical distancing to stay safe and keep rinks open. The rules have been established to bring use of the City of Thunder Bay’s rinks in compliance with Ontario Regulations, and to keep everyone safe as they enjoy outdoor skating.

For the information of the public, following is the excerpt from Ontario Regulation 82/20 regarding outdoor amenities such as rinks:

An outdoor recreational amenity described in subsection (2) may only open if

  • any person who enters or uses the amenity maintains a physical distance of at least two metres from any other person who is using the amenity;
  • team sports are not practised or played within the amenity;
  • other sports or games that are likely to result in individuals coming within two metres of each other are not practised or played within the amenity; and
  • any locker rooms, change rooms, showers and clubhouses remain closed, except to the extent they provide access to equipment storage, a washroom or a portion of the amenity that is used to provide first aid

Individuals using the rinks must follow these rules:

  • No games allowed, including shinny/scrub hockey
  • Sticks and pucks are allowed for individual or family use only
  • No hockey nets allowed
  • Masks are recommended
  • Non-compliance of these rules will result in further restrictions or closures

The “regulations” under Ontario Regulation 82/20 however make no mention of no shinny or scrub hockey, no mention of no hockey nets, and no mention under those regulations on sticks and pucks. Those “regulations” added to the city media release to appear to be although listed on Administration’s press statement like they were part of the Ontario Regulations, are in fact not part of the legislation or regulation.

There are reports that the Thunder Bay District Health Unit is not ordering that outdoor rinks be closed.

There also appears little interest in education on this matter, as Administration adds, “By-law officers and Parks staff will proactively monitor the skating rinks and ponds, including those designated as unsupervised, for compliance with the rules and restrictions. By-law officers are authorized to issue tickets where appropriate under provincial legislation and will be proactively monitoring for compliance.”

CUPE-87, the Union for City workers is stating that they are not seeing any widespread violations of outdoor rinks.

A mask or face covering is strongly recommended on outdoor rinks and other park areas as an additional measure during the lockdown extension, especially when physical distancing of two metres is a challenge.

While it is important that we all do all we can to help slow the growth and spread of COVID-19 in our region and city, having support from the residents and citizens appears to not be atop the list of process.

NetNewsLedger has reached out to Mayor Mauro and several Councillors seeking their comments on this issue.

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