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Fate of local summer programs up in the air

DThe splashpad in Elmira remains closed pending a decision on reopening recreational facilities.

We may be heading into what would be the start of traditional summer activities, but there’s nothing traditional about this season. For kids, residential and day camps have been cancelled or cutback, while the likes of pools and splashpads remain shuttered indefinitely.

The Grand River Conservation Authority, for instance, has cancelled all of its day camps this summer, despite the province allowing such services to be offered as part of phase two of its reopening plan.

That being the case, the GRCA said the risks outweighed the reward, opting for the cancellation.

“This was a very difficult decision, we know how much our campers and families enjoy the nature activities, games and outdoor experiences offered at our camps, but the health and safety of our campers and staff remain our highest priority,” said Tracey Ryan, the agency’s manager of environmental education and restoration.“Our traditional summer camps would not be the same under COVID-19 restrictions. It’s difficult to imagine a nature camp without a campfire circle, interactive and team activities and adventures.”

The GRCA has a “low-risk threshold” for the health and safety of participants, choosing to “err on the side of health and safety for all the right reasons” by cancelling, she added.

Municipal-run day camps may be an option. While Waterloo, for example, has announced it will be running some programs starting July 6. Woolwich, however, has yet to make a decision on its programs. Likewise, a decision on whether to reopen the pool or splashpad in Elmira is still pending, perhaps following a council meeting next week.

The township did this week cancel all of its in-person arts and culture events, including the annual Canada Day festivities. The move was made to support physical distancing measures and stem the spread of the coronavirus.

“There’s been discussion regarding having these events or not, it came to a final decision just to ensure the safety of the public (and) we wouldn’t be able to effectively provide safety protocols to ensure proper physical distancing measures,” said Marie Malcolm, community program and inclusion coordinator with the Township of Woolwich. “We know that Canada Day is a huge event that everyone likes to enjoy in person, but ensuring the safety of our community members (means) unfortunately we do have to make the decision to cancel.”

In lieu of the regular celebrations to commemorate the birth of our country, the township is planning to have a virtual event posted on their website in time for Canada Day 2020. Included in these types of festivities would be crafts and games that can be done at home. Entertainment is also being lined up and this will be pre-recorded or live and all will be available to view online.

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