Council approves Stage 2 reopening plan

by Colin Smith

In line with the rest of the province, Morinville is moving into phase 2 of the relaunch, further easing up on measures imposed to deal with the COVID-19 health crisis.

At its regular meeting on Tuesday Council approved a reopening plan recommended by the Administration.

This includes reopening the Town Office, Morinville Leisure Centre, and the Morinville Community Cultural Centre, along with outdoor baseball/softball diamonds and soccer fields.

This will take place “when operationally feasible to do so,” and following the orders and guidelines issued by Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Also, the Town of Morinville staff levels will be adjusted based on operational needs.

In April layoffs of 31 full-time and part-time Town staff were announced, along with 40 tentative layoffs of casual staff, delaying seasonal hiring of 31 positions and a temporary ban on new hires.

All child and youth summer camps run by the Town have been cancelled for June, July and August. That vote passed 4-3 with Councillor Balanko, Dafoe and Richardson opposed.

Chief Administrative Officer Stephane Labonne said the reopening plan was developed before the Provincial Government announced that the second phase of the relaunch would begin June 12, rather than later in the month as expected.

That announcement, which took place earlier Tuesday, allows for the openings of  K-12 schools, libraries,  movie theatres and personal wellness services, as well as gyms, pools and arenas, bingo halls and casinos that had planned to be in phase 3.

Labonne told Council that the earlier relaunch date presents the Administration with challenges.

“Shutting things down is really easy, turning things back on is not easy,” he said.

“It’s not as if we can snap our fingers and turn on the lights and have our facilities. There is a lot of work that we need to do to get ready for this.”

Challenges include dealing with Town staff members who have been shifted and redeployed, recruiting casual and seasonal staff, and needed maintenance on baseball/softball and soccer fields.

It’s also necessary to develop practices to keep both staff and patrons safe at Town facilities.

Labonne said as a result he was unable to provide any reopening timelines.

The Administration will be reviewing its modelling to develop a new plan to bring forward to Council when it meets Tuesday, June 16.

A decision on whether to keep the splash park closed was referred to Council’s June 23 meeting, where it will be discussed along with planned improvements to the park.

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