EDMONTON -- The city will reopen five arenas and one recreation centre on Thursday, with an eye on reopening three more facilities next week, mainly for kids sports and activities.  

City manager Andre Corbould announced the plans during Wednesday’s Emergency Advisory Committee meeting at City Hall, while also providing council with a general update of the status of COVID-19 in Edmonton.

“It seems we’re on the back end of the second wave but the data remind us that we are still in a vulnerable place,” said Corbould, highlighting the current delay in vaccine supply and the presence of two COVID-19 variants in the Edmonton area.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 43 of the 120 total variant cases in Alberta had been detected in the Edmonton Zone, nine more compared to the previous day. Meanwhile, active cases of the conventional strain of COVID-19 have dropped significantly in recent weeks.

On Tuesday, the number of active COVID-19 cases in the city of Edmonton dropped below 1,400 for the first time since October. COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the Edmonton Zone on Wednesday afternoon were at their lowest number (149) since November. 

Mayor Don Iveson said the rising variant count was on the minds of decision-makers.

"We'll continue to ask questions of (public health officials) about the data they are seeing and if and when that merits a change in strategy around reopening," said Iveson.

The reopening of select facilities is happening in conjunction with Step 1 of Alberta’s ‘Path Forward’ plan, which permitted the resumption of indoor and school-related athletics for Albertans under age 18, with restrictions, on Feb. 8.

The guidelines also permit one-on-one indoor sessions for adults with masked personal trainers, but the city said its arenas reopening only applies to sports organizations (which train elite athletes, for example) and that members of the public cannot use city facilities with trainers. 

"It's just not cost effective at this point, against all of the other things you'd have to turn on, to begin to activate the rec centres," said Iveson.

The following facilities are scheduled to reopen on Thursday:

  • Terwillegar 4 Pad Arena
  • Callingwood Twin Arena
  • Castle Downs Twin Arena
  • The Meadows Twin Arena
  • Kinsmen Twin Arena
  • Kinsmen Sports Centre (dryland training/aquatics)

For now, the reopening of the five arenas only apply to the actual rinks themselves and not connecting fitness areas or gyms.

Additional facilities could reopen on Feb 16, depending on demand, including Clareview Twin Arena, Mill Woods Twin Arena, and St. Francis Xavier Sports Centre, according to Corbould.  The city said approximately 42 staff would return as part of this week's reopening. 

Under the latest provincial health guidelines, kids sports teams are not allowed to play games against other teams and must remain in groups of 10 or fewer, including adult trainers and coaches.