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Day camps cancelled in New Tecumseth due to extensive guidelines

June 18, 2020   ·   0 Comments

The government recently announced township run day camps can go forward but most Simcoe County municipalities, including New Tecumseth, are already opting out.

Town CAO, Blaine Parkin recommended against running the day camps at last Monday night’s Council meeting due to the extensiveness of the guidelines drawn up by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and Ministry of Health.

“What we have to go through to open it – there’s so much challenges that things could go wrong, so my solution was not to open up,” said Mayor Rick Milne.

Deputy Mayor, Richard Norcross, who’s in agreement with Mayor Milne and Parkin, said the situation is “extremely fluid” and the Town’s primary concern is for the safety of residents and staff.

“Today, what’s been announced with the Level 2 [reopening plan], I still think we’ve come a long way, I think there’s a further way to go and I would sooner err on the side of caution before I’d start opening everything back up again,” he noted.

Innisfill and Wasaga Beach are among the only municipalities in Simcoe County still entertaining the idea of summer camps under all of the provincial and regional guidelines. The low uptake regionally is directly tied to the conditions necessary to facilitate programming.

“It’s really just because of how extensive the monitoring and the screening of the children is and how they have to be managed. It’s extremely intensive and extremely extensive with respect to those guidelines and I can certainly understand why they would be,” Parkin said to Council.

“I think a lot of us are parents and we think about the safety of our children all the time, so I can certainly understand what the Health Unit and ministry of health are trying to accomplish.”

Meanwhile, Ward 7 Councillor Shira Harrison-McIntyre expressed her interest in exploring how other townships are going forward under the guidelines and making the camps a reality.

“We really need to support our kids in being healthy and getting out there and if there’s a way of doing it where it was outside and it was safe I would be very supportive of that,” she said.

“They deserve our attention, they deserve to get out there – a lot of our kids have been stuck at home for too long.”

Ward 3 Councillor Paul Foster, who’s in support of opting out, noted that the Town has opportunities to open more summer amenities to the public, which pose less of a risk than day camps.

“I think when you listen to the CAO and Mayor and Deputy Mayor, I think it’s prudent for us to move away from the camp aspect as much as it pains all of us to say that,” he said.

“If we focus our energies on areas that are maybe more open and less restrictive, we can still give taxpayers some great benefits and possibilities for outdoor activities and mitigate the dangers of opening up day camps.”

Under the Ford Government’s Stage 2 Reopening Plan, a number of outdoor amenities were allowed to be reopened, including pools, which worried Parkin from a safety perspective.

“The opening of the pool is something I have a fair bit of concern with…so we are working through that and understanding what would be required from a capacity level or lifeguard requirement or anything like that,” he explained.

“The splash pad I think we can look at and the control group tomorrow will be working it’s way through these details and seeing how we can… continue to open up our amenities and allow our residents to enjoy the Town as much as possible but obviously in a safe manner.”

The Tottenham Conservation Area is open for day use, however the Town advises against swimming in the pond.

“We encourage people to get out and use the open spaces in the Town just use them respectfully. Respect people’s physical distancing,” Parkin stressed.

Town-owned public washrooms are currently being modified to offer contactless hand washing and toilet flushing due to COVID-19.

“Our primary reason for opening the public washrooms is to help and assist people with proper hygiene and hand washing,” Parkin noted.

By Sam Odrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


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