E-News COVID Updates #13

Libraries Reopening:
HRM’s libraries are reopening! The plan is for all branches to be open by July 7. What services are available and how our libraries operate will differ somewhat from branch to branch as staff adapt each location to meet public health requirements. I know the Library is an essential part of our community and that it has been missed. It will be great to have it open again.

In anticipation of reopening, all book drop off boxes have been reactivated and the library is once again accepting returns. All items that are currently out are due back by July 28. The Library is now offering curbside pickup at all 14 branches so if you placed a hold on something before COVID, you may get a call to come get it . Alderney’s curbside pickup hours are Monday – Friday, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. While curbside pickup is allowing existing holds to go out, the Library isn’t quite ready to open up the catalogue to new hold requests. The Library anticipates allowing new holds soon. Room bookings and the Library’s programs remain cancelled until the end of August.

Photo: Leading With Transit

No changes in routes or schedules to report this week. Transit has announced that in early July, they will begin to install polycarbonate shields on buses to fully separate drivers from passengers. It’s expected that installing shields on all buses will take a few weeks to complete. Once shields are in place, transit will be in a position to restart fare collection. Fares are still suspended, but we’re getting closer to the time when the bus will no longer be free. Masks aren’t mandatory on transit, but passengers are being strongly encouraged to wear one.

Findlay Community Centre Parking Lot:
The Findlay Community Centre, like all HRM rec centres, is closed. Staff though have been looking at innovative ways that they can still provide some outdoor activities. The neighbourhood has made good use of the Centre’s virtually empty parking lot over the last few weeks and that informal use has been noted and is now being formalized. The Centre’s parking lot is closed off and signage is being installed to let the public know that it’s free to use for unstructured recreation. Staff are also exploring putting out additional equipment for kids to create their own bicycle obstacle courses.

Supervised Beaches:
Good news regarding the beach season! Earlier concerns that HRM mightn’t be able to fully staff all its supervised beaches have been put to bed. The second recruitment drive netted enough lifeguards for every beach except Malay Falls Beach on the Eastern Shore. That means Birch Cove, Penhorn, and Big Albro will be staffed as usual starting July 6. I’m glad that this part of summer in Dartmouth will be going ahead this year.

Please note that construction of the new pathway at Penhorn is nearing completion, but the new washroom is going to take longer to finish. The current timeline for substantial completion is August 15. The beach will be open throughout construction, but port-a-potties are going to be the go for this season.

Zatzman Sportsplex pool being filled. Photo: Sportsplex

With last week’s direction from the Province regarding public pools, the Sportsplex has announced that the pool will once again be available for public use for lane swims only starting on July 20. The social distancing and gathering requirements makes public swims impossible. To access the pool, you’ll need to book a time slot in advance using a MyRec account. Instructions on how to setup a MyRec account are available on the Sportsplex website here.

Since the Provincial restrictions have also eased around day camps, the Sportplex will be offering them starting July 20. Sportsplex camps, unlike HRM’s, will be full day camps. Sessions will be limited to 8-9 children per camp leader and each group will not mix with any other groups, which means capacity will be greatly reduced compared to the Sportsplex’s normal summer offerings. Spaces are first being offered to families who registered for camps prior to the Sportsplex’s shutdown in March. Any remaining spaces will be available for registration on July 2 at 9:00 am.

Boys and Girls Club Virtual Camps:
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Halifax are offering summer camps, but to meet public health requirements, the camps can’t take as many kids. All camp spaces are almost full. The Boys and Girls Club is supplementing with free online programs for kids 6 – 14. For more information, visit the Boys and Girls Club site here.

Virtual Canada Day:
Wednesday, July 1, 7:00 pm
COVID-19 has made the usual holiday festivities impossible, but the show is still going on. HRM was selected by Canadian Heritage and CBC to be part of the national virtual Canada Day celebrations. The national celebration will include Halifax Heroes (people who have made managing through COVID just a little easier). In addition to the national show, there will be a local show with music performances by Joel Plaskett, Reeny Smith, Jah’Mila, Mo Kenney, Owen O Sound Lee, Ben Caplan, and Classified. The local show will be live on HRM’s youtube page, Civic Event’s Facebook page, and Eastlink. Unfortunately, due to physical distancing requirements there are no fireworks being offered this year (they draw too big a crowd).