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Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre remains open despite provincial restrictions

“Our goal is to be open as much as possible and to keep things safe and to encourage people to still come. People can really feel safe about coming here, and having their space and working out.”
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Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre has not yet been affected by enhanced provincial restrictions, as Cochrane remains exempt from group fitness restrictions. (Tyler Klinkhammer/The Cochrnae Eagle)

COCHRANE-- Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre remains open for business despite enhanced COVID-19 restrictions across the province.

On Monday (Nov. 15) Cochrane was officially included in the Government of Alberta’s Enhanced Status list when the number of active COVID-19 cases in the community jumped up to 23. 

“We hit enhanced yesterday, which affects the bars and closing times, but Cochrane is still exempt from the sports and the fitness ban,” said Brooke Sabourin, programs manager with Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre.

Restrictions on social gathering sizes, funeral and wedding attendance numbers and faith-based gathering sizes have been implemented in many communities across Alberta, but restrictions on fitness classes have not yet been doled out by the government.

“We’re getting flooded with phone calls with people asking about our programs thinking they’re cancelled right now because of the city’s announcement,” said Michelle Everett, sales and marketing manager at Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre.

If the province does change course suddenly, there are a number of contingency plans in place based on which programs and facilities might be affected, Everett noted.

“It’s day to day, right? If Dr. Hinshaw updates her message we have to be ready to shut down as well for the amount of time they state,” she said.

Everett said that the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre is communicating its policy changes to its membership through its electronic newsletter.

“It’s normally a monthly newsletter, but it’s the fastest way to communicate to our members and non-members who have signed up for our newsletter,” she said. “If there’s an announcement to stop programs immediately we’ll use that platform and we’ll get it out within an hour.”

They will also use social media to provide updates, Everett said, but not always, so the most consistent way to get news about the facilities programs is via the newsletter.

“We don’t spam people, we don’t send out daily messages because we want to be in your face, it’s only for monthly updates on programs and events, and now we’re using it for our CEO messages and urgent news.”

Many user groups, like Cochrane Minor Hockey, the Airdrie-Cochrane Athletic Association, and the Cochrane Generals have cancelled bookings at the arena facilities, but those are due to the legislation introduced by Hockey Alberta, the body that governs minor and Junior hockey in the province, said Sabourin.

Despite the rising COVID cases across the province, the leadership of Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre is determined to keep the facility open and operational.

The facility has invested heavily in cleaning protocols and products, which are available for guests and staff, masks are mandatory inside the facility, and with the large amount of space and the low number of touchpoints patrons of the facility should feel safe at the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre, Everett said.

“Our goal is to be open as much as possible and to keep things safe and to encourage people to still come,” Everett said. “People can really feel safe about coming here, and having their space and working out.”

There have been a few known cases of COVID-19 positive individuals at the facility. 

One individual who was a part of the swim club at the beginning of September, and a parent of one of the Calgary Titans hockey players who might have visited the facility to watch their child play near the end of October both tested positive for COVID-19 in the days following their visits.

To date there has been no evidence of community transmission within the facility.



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Tyler Klinkhammer

About the Author: Tyler Klinkhammer

Sports reporter for the Cochrane Eagle.
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