Town of Vegreville Re-opens Gym Facility

Town of Vegreville Re-opens Gym Facility

Michelle Pinon
News Advertiser

Calls for the re-opening of the Town of Vegreville’s gym facility were answered by members of council on March 8.

Councillor Dave Berry made the motion to re-open the gym with Covid-19 health measures in place. Council voted unanimously in favour of reopening the gym.

Work out times have to be pre-booked and users have to abide by all the protocols and rules as well as maintain low intensity for the duration of their work out.

The decision came after numerous requests by residents to several members of council. One of those councillors was Tina Warawa who made a case for re-opening the gym based on resources, mental health, and safety. Warawa said Alberta Health Services does address weight lifting and use of treadmills. She said staff were not concerned and all workouts would be booked individually as they had done in the past.

Coun. Warawa also pointed out that the Province is now allowing retail businesses to operate at 25 percent capacity and indoor sports can continue with groups of 10. She said not everyone can afford one on one training and wanted the gym reopened immediately for the health and wellbeing of residents.

Councillor Jerrold Lemko said he had numerous resident contact him asking why the gym was not open. He said St. Paul reopened their gym under AHS guidelines by appointment only without a trainer. Masks must be worn with a maximum of two people in the gym at any one time and allotted one hour to work out. As well, there is a chart gyms are using for perceived exertion on a scale of 1-10 with 4 being rated as low intensity which has to be maintained.

Mayor Tim MacPhee said with government announcements coming without warning they added an extra wrinkle (low intensity) that didn’t make sense. “I do believe this issue wouldn’t be an issue if the government did what it had in place before.”

MacPhee said Community Services Director Phil Rowe shouldn’t have to take the backlash because he made a recommendation based on conversations with other municipalities. He said the issue would be resolved by council and any backlash will come back to council.

Rowe said the issue was discussed with the recreation department on February 16 and the recommendation was that the gym would remain closed and it would be re-evaluated on March 15 with the possibility of opening with guidelines in place.

“It’s a very hot topic right now and we’re asking questions to the government as to the meaning of intensity and how we determine that.” He added that they were “simply going by the interpretation of rules and discussions with other municipalities,” which formed the basis of the decision.

Rowe went on to say, “The pool activities will resume. The aqua fit classes, which is a maximum of 10 people with an instructor. Group lessons with a maximum of 10 people with an instructor. We will open for family swims. A parent must book and prepay for their session. Sign a waiver to confirm that it is their family and only their family to avoid any friends and guests coming. Lane swims open for low intensity swimming. Trained lifeguards will monitor to determine it remains low intensity.”