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CDRC hiring security to enforce vaccination requirements

CDRC TO hiRE security to enforce vaccination requirements

Those visiting the Centre Dufferin Recreation Complex (CDRC) in Shelburne during peak hours can expect to see security enforcing the vaccination requirements put in place by the Province of Ontario and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH).

“I am a little disappointed with the government as a whole implementing something like this and then not being clear and concise and leaving it up to us to interpret this,” remarked Shelburne’s Councillor Lindsay Wegener. “We’re stuck with taking what some may see as drastic measures, hiring security for goodness sakes, but we have to. It’s all on us.”

On September 22, 2021, the Board of Management for the CDRC discussed the newly implemented proof of vaccination provisions for recreation complexes located in Ontario. The board resolved to hire security, as needed, to validate the vaccination status of patrons for as long as required by Ontario regulations. This was decided after members considered having existing staff or user groups take on screening the public but ultimately decided against it due to legal and safety concerns.

“I think one of the biggest complaints from those who are responsible for enforcing this is that it is going to be a great strain on staff to be able to monitor and enforce it,” told Shelburne’s Deputy Mayor, Steve Anderson. “We’ve already seen, for example, at some restaurants where things have gotten really heated.”

Deputy Mayor Anderson also raised concerns regarding CDRC staff having to check for medical exemptions and whether proof of that will be required to be shown. 

“Are we going to have to have somebody who is solely responsible at the door to check this?” asked Anderson in reference to the new screening policies. “That’s a big job.”

Amaranth’s Deputy Mayor Chris Gerrits, Chair of the CDRC Board of Management, agreed. Gerrits said he was surprised with the number of locations hiring security firms and police officers to do the screening. CDRC staff explained how there was typically an operator and a youth during the evenings when ice is operating and that additional personnel would be needed for the new duties.

“We would definitely have to have a third person, whether it’s staff or contracted security,” declared Kim Fraser, facilities administration manager for the CDRC. “There definitely has to be a designated person to do this screening.” 

Gerrits inquired whether screening is something the user groups renting the CDRC’s facilities should have to take on themselves. He explained how user groups, such as the minor hockey association, are already responsible for having valid insurance and managing the behaviour of fans.

“We sort of put everything on them anyways,” noted Deputy Mayor Gerrits.

Emily Francis, the CDRC’s Recreation Program Coordinator, shared how she had spoken with WDGPH on the matter. It was told that if the board did decide to work out an agreement to have user groups do the screening, it wouldn’t alleviate the board’s duties as owner of the CDRC. 

“They won’t tell you yes or no, what’s the right thing to do,” revealed Francis, referring to WDGPH’s advice on the province’s regulations. “But ultimately, they said it’s our responsibility.  

Anderson said that, given this information, hiring somebody to perform screening of those entering the recreation complex will likely be necessary. Putting the task on the user groups, such as hockey and figure skating, was considered insufficient to mitigate the CDRC’s liability.

“I think it’s the cost of doing business in the new reality that we’re in,” commented Shelburne’s deputy mayor about security.

Shelburne’s Councillor Lindsay Wegener also highlighted that a volunteer could be left performing the screening if user groups were left in charge.

“How do we guarantee that they’re not just letting their buddy in because they empathize with them?” questioned Wegener. “‘I know you’re healthy, you’re ok, it’s all good’, and then something happens, and it falls back on our shoulders.” 

The CDRC’s maintenance manager, Marty Lamers, recognized that extra staff would be helpful, particularly with the spectator groups and the away teams. CDRC board members acknowledged that regular visitors would likely not need to be screened every time, but those that attend the facility less frequently, such as the away teams, may be more difficult to handle.

“It’s the one-offs,” stated Lamers. ” The grandparents that show up, and the brothers and the sisters, the aunts and uncles.”

The management board resolved that senior staff would take on screening duties during off-hours and until a security provider was contracted. Shelburne’s Deputy Mayor also volunteered to step up and screen the public if necessary.

“Seriously, if you really had an issue on an evening of somebody not wanting to do it, I would come down and do it,” pronounced Anderson. “If whatever senior staff don’t feel comfortable, and it’s for one night at a particular time, I’ll come down as long as I have enough notice.” 

At the meeting, it was stated that the CDRC might be able to recoup associated costs with providing security to screen vaccination statuses through COVID-related funding provided by higher levels of government. 

Related news: Although provincial guidelines excuse children 12 to 18 participating in youth recreational sports, the Ontario Minor Hockey Association requires all those 12 and up to be vaccinated unless medically exempted. Moreover, on September 23, Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health for WDGPH, released instructions to owners, operators, and persons responsible for facilities used for sports and recreational activities that include an indoor area. It describes how the provincial regulations left out volunteers, coaches, instructors, and sports officials from having to provide proof of vaccination and that Dr. Mercer will now be requiring them to do so. Those responsible for the facilities described above will also be required to develop a proof of vaccination plan that describes the measures and procedures which have been or will be implemented in the facility to ensure compliance with public health and provincial requirements. 

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