From toddlers to seniors, people of all ages have been flocking to Jasper’s activity, fitness and aquatic centres since Sept. 21, the first day the facilities have been open since the pandemic forced closures in March.
“We’re getting a good influx of kids from school. It’s definitely picking up. Our evenings times are all booked,” said Jeremy Todgham, manager of the Fitness and Aquatic Centre.
“People are positive and patient. They’re mostly just excited to be back.”
Those upbeat attitudes are a great vibe to mix with the learning curve that comes with required COVID-19 protocol, for both municipal staff and the public.
“The hardest part is the time,” Todgham said. “Lockers are all closed. We have bins for everybody. They look exactly like the airport bins. (People) put clothes, backpacks in them, take them to the designated spot, then drop the bins at another spot for cleaning.”
There are markers in both facilities on floors to guide people which direction to go in and how far apart to stay.
Additionally, there is a new role of COVID marshall, based on a strong recommendation from Alberta Health Services that at least one staff member on deck be designated as a “COVID-19 responsible person”, to watch for adherence to physical distancing and all other public health guidance.
The COVID marshall is not to be performing other duties and Todgham said the position rotates among staff members.
That adds to responsibilities to keep up with the stringent cleaning and other requirements such as making sure capacity limits are not exceeded.
The Aquatic Centre’s brand new water slide, which was set to open in April, is finally being used, and the steam room is open as well.
There were plans to open the hot tub too but, Todgham said, there was a power failure, and staff are waiting for parts to come in so it will be a while yet.
The Fitness Centre’s popular bouldering wall is also open.
Todgham said all memberships were pro-rated, according to how much time was remaining. “We’re not providing the same service, so rather than just being a time extension, it was important to credit the accounts for the amount of time that was remaining,” he said.
But even though the centres are open now there is still uncertainty about whether that will change.
To allow for that, Todgham recommended buying either a ten-use punch pass, or a pass for a three-month, or shorter, time period.
Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh