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Volume 25, Number 20, Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Fort cautious about reopening

Looks to me that turning the Movie Under the Stars into a drive-in was a complete success. Too successful, if anything.

Free tickets for this event were gone within minutes of the event being posted online. The second show added later sold out just as quickly.

People want to get out. They want to do something as close to normal as possible. For many, that can even mean breaking the COVID-19 social distancing rules if necessary.

I applaud the City of Fort Saskatchewan staff for coming up with a safe alternative to the already popular Movie Under the Stars event. This is obviously exactly the kind of thing we want and need right now. By keeping people in their cars, but still letting them get out of the house, it is a perfect answer to the problem of what to do this summer.

Online alternatives to our summer events are probably worthwhile, but clearly not what people are looking for.

Check out the Fort Saskatchewan Public Library's children's reading program on YouTube. These safe substitutes for the library's popular interactive programs are not getting much of an audience. One video had exactly zero views when I checked out the lineup last week. None had more than eight views.

I hope the Legacy Park Festival will do better, but I fear it may not. We've all had just about all of the screen time we can handle by now, and need something better. Something real.

Which brings me to the City of Fort Saskatchewan's new E-Commerce business grant. I like it, in that every business should have at least a web site. The internet has replaced the Yellow Pages directory, after all.

But e-commerce is not the answer to our local economic woes, any more than YouTube is a suitable substitute for our Canada Day parade. We want to go out to get coffee, share a meal at a fine restaurant, or go shopping again.

The key is going to be helping us all do that safely by allowing more outdoor patios, wider sidewalks and such.

It's going to take innovative thinking, and I'm glad to see some of that is happening.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

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Drive-in movie part of solution

A cautious approach to reopening is being taken by City of Fort Saskatchewan officials.

Protection of public and staff health is the first priority in all decisions, City Manager Troy Fleming told City Council Tuesday, May 19. "Services will not be reintroduced unless there is a strong belief that the provision of the service does not compromise the health of the community or the staff."

Financial considerations will also slow the facility reopening strategy, Fleming added. “The benefits of reintroducing services to the community must be weighed against the cost of providing those services if there is not a strongly known demand or need for the service.

“In addition, the costs of having to shut down services a second or third time must be considered.”

The possibility of a second wave of the COVID-19 virus must be considered, he noted.

Some City of Fort Saskatchewan facilities have reopened at a limited level as the Alberta relaunch strategy enters phase 1. The Dow Centennial Centre has opened only for Pivotal Physiotherapy customers, for example.

Tennis, pickleball and basketball courts have also reopened, but administration is still evaluating reopening of playgrounds and the skateboard park, Fleming said.

New health regulations for playgrounds were released by Alberta Health Services Monday, and will take a few days to review, he added. He expects to be able to say in a couple of days when playgrounds will be reopened.

Plans are also being made to reopen the Fort Heritage Precinct (museum), allowing pre-booked tours only.

It is also possible that some outdoor summer programs may be allowed, along with outdoor fitness programs.

The opening of further facilities will have to wait for the Alberta relaunch strategy to move on to phase 2, which is several weeks away as yet, Fleming said.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020