St. Clair pools, museums to stay closed until August

Mooretown Sports Complex

Alex Kurial
Local Journalism Initiative

St. Clair Township is in no rush to open their public facilities.

Council discussed whether they should reopen the township’s pair of museums and the public pool. They’ve been closed for four months in the effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Councillors were clear the pool at the Mooretown Sports Complex should not open yet – even if the provincial guidelines in Stage Three of the reopening of the province would allow it. Members decided to delay any opening until next council meeting at the earliest.

A report from coordinator of community programs Michelle Rottier showed how intensive reopening the pool will be no matter when it takes place.

Capacity has been decreased dramatically in the water and changing rooms. COVID-19 screenings will take place for each person entering the pool.

The pool would also see reduced hours due to the time necessary to constantly clean the facility.

One of the biggest changes will be the elimination of traditional swimming lessons. Provincial guidelines do not allow contact between a teacher and student, meaning parents would have to accompany their kids in private family lessons. Rottier will gather feedback to see if there is enough parent interest in this option to offer these lessons once the pool reopens.

“It was a hard report to write. The idea was to show you what we’re up against and try and lay it out as best we could to prepare you for what is to come,” says Director of Community Services Kendall Lindsay.

At the Sombra and Mooretown museums, officials are worried about older patrons who are more susceptible to COVID-19 and the narrow pathways which lead visitors through the exhibits making physical distancing difficult.

“Personally I would like to see them just stay closed until we get well into Stage Three,” says Mayor Steve Arnold. “The last thing I’d want us to do is get excited and open up, and then we go backwards.

“You look at the US, you look at Quebec, they all slipped backwards after they went gun ho and opened. I think instead of getting everybody all excited and then confused, my preference is just to leave them down.”

“We’re probably pretty safe, but if everything goes awry again we’ll just have to jump back to Phase One again. I think we should wait and see,” says Councillor Tracy Kingston.

Several councillors were in favor of leaving the decision up to museum staff, but in the end, the vote was to keep the museums closed for now.

Arnold says his main concern for both the pool and museums is the well being of the staff. “When you open it up, if you have people from all over Ontario you don’t know what they’re carrying at this point.”

The openings will be revisited at the next council meeting on August 17.

Meantime, workers at Lambton’s museums were back in the buildings Friday preparing for a possible reopening.

Museums and art galleries are slated to reopen under stage three of the province’s plan to remove COVID-19 restrictions.

Lambton County was not among the communities which will be opening Friday.
Most of the workers in museums now are working on reopening plans or continuing work which was ongoing before the pandemic closed everything down.