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Didsbury COVID recreation facility plan working well: Hunter

Town of Didsbury has been using the one-third model for youth-based programs and private household use
didsbury arena
Groups using the REP option in Didsbury facilities have included the Mountain View Colts Junior B hockey team, the Didsbury Curling Club, several men’s recreational hockey teams, and an Aquafit user group. File photo

DIDSBURY - The Town of Didsbury’s decision to introduce a mixture of Restriction Exemption Program (REP) and one-third capacity maximums at its recreation facilities has been working well, say officials.

With the approval of town council, the rules are in place at the arena, swimming pool and curling club.

“Council had directed us to pursue the one-third capacity (and to) work with Alberta Health Services and allow some of our private users to implement an REP where possible,” said director of community service Nicole Aasen.

“So we’ve been fortunately enough to have approval from Alberta Health Services to allow for some of our adult programs to manage their own REP programs and be able to use our facilities.”

Under the REP option users must provide proof of vaccination or recent COVID-19 test results.

Groups using the REP option have included the Mountain View Colts Junior B hockey team, the Didsbury Curling Club, several men’s recreational hockey teams, and an Aquafit user group.

As well, county music entertainer Gord Bamford has booked the town's multi-purpose room for an upcoming Jan. 21 concert. 

“They are going to operate as an REP,” he said. 

The groups using the REP model police themselves to ensure compliance with Alberta Health Services rules.

“They are responsible to ensure that all of their users are meeting all of the vaccine or testing requirements for Alberta Health Services,” she said. “It’s up to those groups to monitor themselves.”

The Town of Didsbury has been using the one-third model for youth-based programs and private household use.

“So we are doing a lot of household swims, household arena rentals, kids and youth swimming lessons and those kinds of things. That’s kind of what our regular programming looks like at this point in time,” she said.

The town has been monitoring the one-third usage to ensure compliance.

“Obviously we are keeping track of our numbers to ensure we are within that one-third fire code capacity,” she said. “We are having to do some monitoring around masking and social distancing because those are requirements under that model as well.

“We have seen a really great improvement in that over the last couple of months. It was a little more difficult to begin with, but since the beginning of November it’s been running really smoothly.”

During the recent council meeting, councillors were given an update on the models being used at the town’s facilities.

“It had come back to them to revisit it and they were satisfied that Alberta Health Services is allowing for our users to implement the REPs themselves. Council didn’t see fit to make any changes.

“I don’t anticipate any changes will happen until they happen at the provincial level.”

Mayor Rhonda Hunter says council is pleased with the way things have been going and happy that residents have been able to access town recreation facilities.

“I think it has been a success,” said Hunter. “The focus is really to maximize access to our facilities. I believe we have kept our people, all our user groups and our athletes and our fitness programs happy. It has worked well.”