By Breanne Massey

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Columbia Lake Recreation Centre (CLRC) has amended COVID-19 safety procedures in Windermere to help keep the community safe during the pandemic.

The provincial health care officer (PHO) in B.C. announced on Dec. 3 that temporary restrictions are in effect for indoor physical activities to mitigate the risk of community transmission of the Novel Coronavirus from physical interactions.

Upon receiving information from the PHO, the leadership team at the CLRC, which is located on the lands of the Akisqnuk First Nation, closed immediately to develop a safety plan that adhered to the provincial health regulations and guidelines for fitness, sports, low-intensity and high-intensity activities.

“When we heard the announcement, we actually closed the rec centre that night and had it closed for about a week while we created new signage and a new schedule for cleaning,” said Heather Rennebohm, CLRC spokesperson. “We had to advise various adult teams that played (sports) that they weren’t going to be able to do that anymore. That was part of our preparation, then we opened the following week just for singles pickleball and youth indoor soccer (training).”

With the caveat that pickleball players are restricted to appointment-only matches for singles, while never exceeding a maximum of eight pickleball players on the court total. PickleballBC has introduced a safety plan for participants to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic that is being incorporated into the CLRC’s expectations for visitors.

In addition, the youth indoor soccer training is restricted to those 18-years-old and under to focus on ball handling skill acquisition while maintaining three-feet-of-distance at all times, respecting the phase one of the return to play rules created by the BC Soccer organization. The maximum number of soccer players allowed per cohort is 12 and soccer matches are prohibited at this time.

The weight room and running track may contain a maximum of three single-use visitors at any given time, depending on the total number of scheduled activities that have been booked. Rennebohm indicated that the CLRC restricts a maximum number of 16 visitors at one time.

“We have a double-barreled set of precautions,” said Rennebohm. “The centre requires masks at all times, and the way it works in the centre, people come in at one time and exit at a different time and (door). People never cross paths. We keep them separate and in small cohorts as well.”

Face masks, sanitizer, regular cleanings, COVID-19 screening questionnaire upon entering are required at the CLRC, as well as tracing through both an app for pickleball users and single-use visitors, while soccer training program sign-in manually by pen and paper.

“Each of the two main (sports) that we are running in the centre, we have all the protocols of the centre as well as all of the protocols of the sports too,” she explained about the safety plan.

On Dec. 10, the PHO checked-in with the CLRC and provided verification of their safety plan so that it may continue to remain open for the time being.

The CLRC will be closed on Dec. 24 for Christmas Eve, Dec. 25 for Christmas Day as well as Jan. 1 on New Years Day. As of Dec. 10, the hours of operation were between noon and 7 p.m. mountain time during the week only. However, the CLRC plans to stay agile and the hours of operation / business rules are subject to change in the event that the PHO announces new information.

To access the building, please take an immediate right outside the band office to park and enter on the eastern side of the recreation centre where the sun rises to honour Ktunaxa traditions. Drop-ins visits are not currently available for monthly members or day rate users of the facility.

Please contact Bryan Armstrong at: [email protected] or 250-342-6111 to make arrangements for facility use in-advance.