FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The City of Fort St. John has provided an update on recreation during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

When it came to making the decision of keeping the North Peace Arena closed until 2021, CAO Milo MacDonald says the training of new staff and the rise in new cases played a role in delaying the arena’s opening which was scheduled for November 2.

“It’s difficult to overlay brand new staff and meet those technical requirements to be able to do this. One of the other things is there’s all of this deteriorating COVID situation, so we’re seeing much higher case counts.”

Since the North Peace Arena is closed, the Pomeroy Sport Centre has seen an increase in ice time, and despite that increase, recreation Manager Vanessa Cumming says users have been respectful of each other and the policies put in place.

“People have been really respectful of all of our guidance that we’ve put in place so far. A few complaints, that are normal and to be expected, but I did highlight that we’ve had zero incidents of aggression or outbursts towards staff in relation to COVID-19, in the last two months. Overall, the user groups are working hard to ensure that they are following the guidelines so they can keep using the ice.”

According to Director of Recreation and Leisure Services Karin Carlson, Staff has been trying to come up with creative ways to ensure all user groups will have ice time, such as allowing figure skating to use sections of the speedskating oval for practice and competitions.

Currently, with adjustments being made, the City maintains over 70 percent of the ice rental space compared to the 2019 – 2020 season, with all available ice times booked.