New restrictions close Beaverlodge rec centre, Crosslink Sportsplex, South Peace arenas

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Provincial COVID restrictions that came into effect Sunday included the forced closures of pools, fitness centres and arenas for at least four weeks.

This has resulted in the total closure of the Beaverlodge recreation centre as well as the Beaverlodge Arena, said Rae Cook, parks and recreation manager.

“It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s for a good reason,” said mayor Gary Rycroft.

Rycroft said the restrictions are unfortunate but necessary given some people across the province haven’t followed guidelines. He credited Beaverlodge residents with being more diligent.

He noted Christmas typically isn’t a busy time for the pool, so the closure’s financial impact may be minimal.

At the Beaverlodge rec centre, fitness classes, aquafit and pickleball had been paused in November in response to provincial COVID restrictions.

Despite the limitations, Cook said the rec centre continued to offer individual and single-household entry until Sunday.

Rec centre use dropped, with Cook attributing this to 25 per cent capacity limits.

There were 1,078 people who participated in pre-registered drop-in swim times this November, compared to 2,698 in November 2019, she said.

Pool and fitness centre members will have their memberships extended for the duration the rec centre is closed, she said.

Cook declined to comment on whether the closure will result in layoffs or how many staff are affected.

“We encourage everyone to focus on their physical and mental health at this time,” Cook said.

“Get creative with how to stay active and dedicate time for it daily.

“Involve all members of your household, get fresh air, set goals and don’t forget to share laughter along the way.”

She said the Beaverlodge rec department will share ideas on how to keep active during the restrictions.

Communities across the South Peace have also been affected by the arena closures.

Sexsmith mayor Kate Potter told Town & Country News last week she understands the lack of access to the Sexsmith Arena will be difficult for many residents.

She encouraged residents to enjoy the town’s various outdoor rinks, which can remain open under the restrictions.

Clairmont’s Crosslink County Sportsplex closed Saturday night.

The community gym at Peace River Bible Institute remains closed to public access.

The Sexsmith and Beaverlodge arenas as well as Crosslink had already limited indoor group fitness activities in November.

In response to provincial COVID measures, the Beaverlodge and Sexsmith arenas suspended men’s rec league hockey due to the amount of travel associated with this activity.

Crosslink had limited ice surfaces to use by school groups and families from the same household.

Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News