Library Keeping to Curbside, GRCA Shutting Parks Again

In parts of Ontario, there’s a certain anxiousness about the second stage of the Ontario government’s re-opening of the economy, but things are not going to totally get back to normal in at least two parts of Guelph society. In separate press announcements today, one Guelph institution said that they’re keeping the status quo, and the other is actually taking away service effective immediately.

While more Guelph businesses will be able to open on Friday, the Guelph Public Library will be keeping up with curbside pick-up for the time being. Because the framework from the province does not allow for physical access to the public collections, the head of the library says that curbside is still the best option, and they will be focusing on extending curbside pick-up hours, while assessing the level of service that they can provide next.

“The Library is busy planning and preparing for our reopening phase 2,” said Guelph Library CEO Steven Kraft. “We must always ensure we have the proper protocols in place prior to reopening the library buildings for both the safety of our staff and patrons. We are pleased with the success of curbside pickup and are proud of our staff who make it happen!”

The Library’s press release added that they will be providing an update about the next phase of re-opening in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, up the road at Guelph Lake, the word of the day is “closed.” After sending out an advisory on the weekend that visitors were not respecting physical distancing, and were not respecting the park grounds by leaving bags of trash behind, the Grand River Conservation Authority has followed through on its threat to temporarily shut down the Guelph Lake Conservation Area again.

“Given the limited staff that the GRCA currently has in place, and the work we need to complete in order to prepare our conservation areas for additional activities, we are temporarily closing the parks where we’ve had the most significant challenges,” said Pam Walther-Mabee, Manager of Conservation Areas. “We are taking this action so that our staff can focus on completing this work, rather than managing capacity and enforcement issues.”

Belwood Lake, the Elora Gorge, and Rockwood conservation areas have also been closed, and they will not be re-opened again until June 15.

According to the GRCA, they have experienced “significant challenges” with the number of visitors they have been receiving at facilities, and it’s taxing already strained and limited resources. They also note that people seem to be accessing GRCA grounds without paying entrance fees, which is a process that’s been automated because of the pandemic. The GRCA collects fees to cover operating costs at parks and conservation areas, so people not paying the entry fee are adding additional strain to GRCA’s already limited financial resources.

In terms of potential good news, the GRCA says that they will be announcing a decision about overnight camping by the end of June, while opening some benches and washrooms at GRCA properties on June 15.

“As the GRCA reopens, the health and safety of staff and the community remain our highest priority. In addition to our ability to meet the government’s new public health and safety requirements, as a board, we will also need to consider the financial feasibility of reopening these additional activities,” said GRCA Chair Helen Jowett. “Like many organizations and businesses across Ontario, the GRCA’s operations have changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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