Update: Saturday, September 18, 2021

Good afternoon,

“Too often we…enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” John F. Kennedy.

I wanted to provide our community some timely guidance and an update related to SLSFSC and the Restrictions Exemption Program (REP); youth sports in particular. I provided a bulletin yesterday (Friday, September 17) . I encourage you to review it again for reference. In it one will see terms such as “a fluid condition”, “solving the proverbial Rubik’s Cube”, “…our community should expect more modifications in time”, etc. Our organization has demonstrated “repetitively” over the past 19 months that we will continue to do what we can for the community; respecting rule of law, maintaining the spirit of the intention when it comes to public safety and the corresponding health measures. Unfortunately, we are also operating in an environment where directives can be nebulous at best, which leads to a perception of the right hand not speaking to the left and so on. The term “fire drill” comes to mind. 

Regarding the issue of how youth sport falls within the REP (aka ‘vaccine passport'), I am completely aware and fully versed on the public temperature and we (SLSFSC) continue to challenge and seek further clarity. But history has demonstrated this does not happen in a most timely fashion. I maintain our community role is to support and provide (and encourage) physical literacy opportunity wherever and whenever we can, particularly for youth sport at a time when it could not be more relevant. 

Guidance previously provided to SLSFSC suggested that including an exemption for youth organized sport within the REP is counter to the intentions of the latest Government restrictions. Upon reviewing the official health order (released last evening), we do not view that as rational nor matching the intentions; we don’t believe the choice was intended to be so binary in nature which would have great impact on youth sport. Health Order 42-2021.

Therefore, as communicated yesterday, effective Monday, September 20, 2021, SLSFSC will implement the Restriction Exemption Program (REP). After much consultation, and a continued mission to do all we can for the community, within the framework and spirit of the latest health order, we are choosing an interpretation of guidance that aligns more closely with supporting our youth sport organizations.
 
  • Youth between the ages of 12 (vaccine eligible) to 18 years of age are exempt from the REP vaccination requirement to enter the facility for the purpose of participating in a youth organized sport organization. Examples include (but not limited to) Cochrane Minor Hockey, Ringette, Cochrane Minor Soccer, Lacrosse, Cochrane Figure Skating Club, Comets, Junior Lifeguard Club, etc. 

  • All spectators, or those that wish to visit SLSFSC’s public areas that are 12+ but are not participating in a youth program, must show proof of vaccination, proof of a negative test, or medical exemption to gain entry to SLSFSC premises. Please note this will mean a youth that is exempt as a participant of a sports team could be subject to proof of vaccination as a non-participant. Example: a youth leaving a Cochrane Minor Hockey program and then going to a public swim.

  • All coaches, volunteers, and organizers of any youth activity that are over 18 years of age must show proof of vaccination, proof of a negative test, or medical exemption to gain entry to SLSFSC premises.

  • Masks, and distancing are required in all public areas, and dressing rooms, until entering the activity.

  • All adult sport participants, 18+ years of age, must show proof of vaccination, proof of a negative test, or medical exemption to gain entry to Cochrane Arena or SLSFSC premises to participate in any recreation or sport activity, or any public area.

There are obviously many specifics that will continue to be worked out with our youth sports groups. I remind everyone of the fluid nature of the situation and to be prepared for change. We also recognize that SLSFSC is committing to a different interpretation of guidance than perhaps other recreation facilities (at this current time). Therefore, we must also acknowledge there is a risk that we are provided guidance (or further restrictive changes) that reverts our path. We are not given the luxury of time to make some decisions; therefore, for the time being, and for the sake of supporting significant youth programming already in session, supporting the framework and spirit of the intentions of REP, we will forge ahead on this chosen path.

There will be more information to follow in the days ahead.

Sincerely,

Blair Felesky
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