Co-written by Brandon Wright and Ryan Hahn
Oshawa city council has voted to close all city-owned recreational facilities and libraries after a lengthy emergency council meeting Friday evening.
The move follows that of other municipal councils in Durham Region. The final vote was five-four in favour of the closures. Mayor Dan Carter and Coun. Tito-Dante Marimpietri were absent from the meeting.
These facilities include Del Park Homes Centre, Children’s Arena, Harman Park Arena, the Oshawa Senior Citizens Centre, the Arts Resource Centre, the Civic Recreation Complex Fieldhouse, Columbus Community Centre, Northview Community Centre, South Oshawa Community Centre, and all public libraries.
As well, all March break camps are cancelled, affecting 286 children in Oshawa.
Coun. Derek Giberson says resident shouldn’t panic.
“We aren’t shutting down the city, we are just limiting person-to-person contact,” he said. “What we are doing is to keep it low-risk.”
While Giberson was in favour of the closure, not all councillors felt the same.
Coun. Rosemary McConkey wanted to set up screening stations at all recreational facilities so they could remain open for children during the three weeks they will be out of school as part of a provincial government directive.
Coun. John Gray thought other precautionary measures could be taken instead of closures.
“If staff don’t want to work in recreation, I’m sure some of them will be quite happy to (still work),” he said. “Why don’t we just issue them with face masks and gloves and we can keep our places open? We’re sailing a different ship here and I’m not happy about it.”
Coun. Rick Kerr disagreed and suggested that if Oshawa was the only city to have these facilities open to the public, there would be an influx of outside residents.
All recreational facilities are closed until April 5 unless Carter and the city’s chief administrative officer decide they are safe to reopen earlier.