Port Moody staff will be reaching out to user groups at its two arenas to determine if they could share in the cost of cleaning and disinfecting dressing rooms so they can be opened again.
The change facilities at Arenas 1 and 2 at the city’s recreation complex have been closed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s forcing users like hockey players and figure skaters to show up at the rink dressed to play except for their skates, which they can put on in marked areas six feet apart in the lobby prior to getting onto the ice.
A report presented to council Oct. 27 said it would cost the city $63,500 in additional staff time to clean and disinfect dressing rooms after each use through to March 27, 2021. If similar procedures have to remain in place through next fall, that would add a further $50,800.
While several councillors balked at the added expense, others worried letting users into cramped indoor spaces would expose them to greater risk of transmitting the novel coronavirus, especially as provincial infection rates appear to indicate a second wave of infections has begun.
“It is too risky,” said Coun. Meghan Lahti. “I can appreciate people want something similar to what they’ve had in the past, but we’re in a global pandemic.”
Coun. Hunter Madsen said the rising numbers of young people getting sick suggests packing a group of them together in tight, humid quarters might not be the best idea to ensure their safety.
“Even with cleaning by aerosol it’s not sufficient,” he said.
Stephanie Naqvi, the president of Port Moody Amateur Hockey, said while the association’s board of directors would have to determine whether it can afford to help pay for cleaning the dressing rooms, it’s players and parents have adjusted well to the new procedures.
“People are finding ways to do it,” she said. “In some ways, it makes it simpler not to have the dressing rooms open because then we don’t have to supervise that.”
Naqvi said the safety procedures that allot 15 minutes for groups to get ready prior to getting on the ice and kids are able to put on their skates at individual stations six feet apart has been working well. Even families with goalies that require a lot of bulky equipment are coping, she added.
Naqvi said everyone has also been understanding about the need to wear masks off the ice, a new rule that was implemented just last Monday.
Brian Wiebe, the general manager of the Port Moody Panthers junior hockey team, said his organization is willing to clean its own dressing room as well as the facility used by visiting teams.
While the Panthers are able to practice at the rec complex, they’re playing all of their home games at the Olympic Oval in Richmond because they can’t get access to the dressing rooms for games.
Staff is expected to have its report back to council by Nov. 10.