Security services have been contracted by the Town of Hinton following several incidents at the Dr. Duncan Murray Recreation Centre involving individuals not complying with Alberta public health orders.
In an immediate response to the incidents, the Town of Hinton closed the Recreation Centre on Sept. 30, noting they were unable to maintain the safety of their staff and patrons. In the meantime, they established security services to allow the facility to remain fully open in the future.
“People are talking a lot about their rights, and I think we should have a forum where we can discuss respectfully with each other, where we see differences and where we don’t see things eye to eye. That’s important, that’s part of democracy. What is not acceptable is subjecting young people, students, staff, to an unsafe work environment,” said Coun. Ryan Maguhn at the Oct. 5 regular council meeting. As a teacher, Maguhn had the opportunity to speak with some of his students who work at the rec centre.
Council approved up to $36,000 for security services for the remainder of 2021 to implement the COVID-19 Restrictions Exemption Program at the Recreation Centre and other municipal buildings if needed. Funds come from the Emergency Response Reserve, which was originally created to support any requirements that might come up due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation, noted Laura Howarth, Hinton’s interim CAO. Up until now, the Town has not needed to make use of those funds.
“A few have now cost this community $36,000 in their actions. I find that appalling,” said Coun. Trevor Haas. He added that children who were playing games and were in attendance at the rec centre were exposed to the horrible behaviour of several adults.
Going forward, proof screening will be done by the security company until further notice. Coun. Albert Ostashek expressed his extreme disappointment it has come to hiring security in order to keep users and staff of the rec centre safe.
“If that’s what it comes down to, to be able to keep the rec centre open, with the ability to provide services to as many people as possible, then it is what it is,” he said.
Hinton RCMP responded to the first call on the evening of Sept. 27 when an individual entered the arena without complying with requirements of the Restriction Exemption Program, said Sergeant Graham Gurski of the Hinton RCMP via email to the Hinton Voice. RCMP attended and spoke with the individual who subsequently exited the facility without incident.
A second call came on the evening of Sept. 29, when a group of individuals entered the arena without compliance of the Restriction Exemption Program.
Again RCMP attended and spoke with the individuals involved, informing them of the requirements, and of the potential legal consequences for not complying with the orders. The group of individuals then left without incident, stated Gurski. One individual was involved with both occurrences, he added.Since the additional measures were introduced by the province in September, the Hinton RCMP has not laid any Public Health Act charges.
Coun. JoAnn Race hopes some of the individuals feel remorseful and noted that no kids should have to watch adults act like this.
“The people who did this, don’t care. They don’t care that we’re going to spend $36,000 tonight when that money could have gone elsewhere,” she said.
Adding another level, Mayor Marcel Michaels said the provincial government has to do a better job with the restrictions.
“Individual people who are upset with the rules and regulations absolutely have a right to have their voices heard, but again after hearing the stories from people who were there, what they do not have the right to do is make others in our community feel unsafe or threatened,” Maguhn said.
Administration will provide information reports to council once per month summarizing service levels and funding status of the Security Services.
Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice