COVID-19 won’t stop summer camps, Gatineau says
Gatineau announced that municipal summer camps for kids aged five to 12 would happen under a set of safety regulations, during an online press conference of May 26. Mayor of Gatineau Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin said putting in place municipal camps was in the best interest of everyone, noting that the city was doing what it could to adapt to the provincial department of public health’s evolving safety regulations. “It’s important for us, even if it’s very complex in the actual context,” he said. “Summer camps won’t be the same as before.”
Hull-Wright Councillor Cédric Tessier said the city was doing everything it could to organize fun individual and group activities for kids that limit the sharing of materials. Tessier noted that outdoor activities would be favoured and that, in times of inclement weather, each group would have its own indoor space. In accordance with provincial safety guidelines, fewer children will be admitted to municipal camps this summer. All in all, 1,284 kids will be able to attend the camps, around half of the usual capacity, and the camps will run for six weeks instead of seven – from July 6 to August 14.
Kids will be separated among 31 sites across the city, which will be determined depending on their compatibility with social distancing guidelines. To respect social distancing, the number of indoor rooms to accommodate each group will be two times more than usual and the city will need 36 additional animators, Tessier said. Parents can verify the locations of each site via the city’s website.
Registrations are reserved for Gatineau residents and require a valid Gatineau Accès card or a registration code. Registration took place for the Aylmer sector on June 1, with registration for the other sectors following. Staff will be rigorously trained and facilities will be prepared so that safety measures can be properly followed.
The city has extended the validity of Gatineau Accès and Gatineau Accès + cards expiring between March 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021, for 90 days. There will be several modifications to this year’s camps to keep children and personnel as safe as possible, including no field trips, no swimming because pools are closed (subject to change) and reduced childcare capacity between 7 to 9 am and 4 to 5:30 pm. In addition, camps may be cancelled without notice during heat waves, in times of staff shortage or if there’s a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Pedneaud-Jobin added that the city had conducted more than 6,000 courtesy calls to senior residents and around 150 references to the regional health care system in the last week as part of an initiative to support vulnerable people during the crisis. “Overall, it’s been extremely appreciated as an operation,” the Mayor said. He added that citizens will now be able to acquire municipal watering permits via the city’s website, noting that permits will be transmitted by email.
Pedneaud-Jobin also announced that certain sports fields had reopened with social distancing, notably the city’s tennis and pickleball courts and outdoor running tracks, from 7 am to 10 pm every day.
The Mayor said the city had been harbouring homeless people inside the Robert-Guertin Arena since May 20, noting that it has room for around 60 people. “In the last few days, it’s been on average 40 people sleeping there at night,” Pedneaud-Jobin said. With summer on the doorstep, he stressed the importance of following safety regulations to prevent the virus from spreading, noting that police were actively monitoring municipal spaces.