On April 23, 2020, the Government of Saskatchewan released Re-Open Saskatchewan: a plan to re-open the provincial economy. The plan outlines five phases, each dedicated to methodically and cautiously re-opening businesses and services across the province. Phase One will begin on May 4 and will re-introduce low-risk recreational activities, including fishing and use of boat launches (immediate), golfing with physical distancing guidelines (starting May 15), and a fixed date for the operation of parks and campgrounds has been set for June 1. Phase Two will begin on May 19 with the re-opening of retail and select personal services (e.g. hair stylists, registered massage therapists). Phases Three, Four and Five will see the gradual re-opening of the province, and more recreation opportunities will become available, but currently these phases have no firm dates assigned.
We are grateful
We are thankful to Premier Scott Moe and the Government of Saskatchewan for taking the first steps toward safely re-opening the province. These are not decisions taken lightly, and we appreciate the careful considerations being made as we move forward toward recovery. We are also grateful that the government has acknowledged the important role that parks and recreation play in community health and wellness and the significant impact the recreation industry has on the provincial economy. The decision to include golf, fishing and camping in the primary phase of recovery speaks to the necessity and value of the parks and recreation industry to the wellbeing of our people, communities and economy.
Over the past few weeks, we have been working closely with the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport to offer our suggestions and guidance for when and how to safely begin re-opening our industry. We have been clear that while we understand that the public, as well as community service groups and sport organizations, will be eager to return to normal, there will likely be changes to procedures, policies, operations and fees. These changes will need to be articulated clearly and communicated widely to manage expectations and help us all navigate this new reality.
How does this plan affect parks and recreation?
In their plan for Phase One, the Government of Saskatchewan has outlined clear guidelines for how our members can safely offer permitted recreation activities like golf, fishing and camping in their communities. For those who manage the facilities that offer these activities, hopefully, the release of this plan has alleviated some of your concerns about when and how you will be able to operate this summer.
However, we know that operations continue to be at a standstill for many others, and that will not change after Phase One and Two are implemented. Most of the impact on the parks and recreation industry will take place primarily in Phase Four, a phase for which there is currently no stated start date. We understand that this may be frustrating for all of you. We have been challenged by this as well. We all want concrete answers, but the situation is complex and changing every day. Clear answers are hard to come by, but we are committed to sharing what we know with you, when we know it. We want to encourage you to keep making good decisions in consultation with your local public health officials. Ensuring that Saskatchewan people have access to safe recreation experiences remains a central part of our industry’s work, and it is critical to our province’s recovery strategy.
We acknowledge that not only are there no dates attached to phases Three through Five, there is also a lack of detail for how these phases will be implemented and what guidelines will be required. The information provided leaves us with more questions than answers but offers us a small but important window of opportunity to influence the phases to come. For this reason, we are turning to you, our membership, for input.
We need your help
We are asking you to share your questions about the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan with us. We also want you to share your proposed solutions with us. What do you think needs to be done to ease us into phases Three through Five? What advice can we provide to the government when establishing the guidelines of the next phases in a way that clearly, efficiently, and – most importantly – safely enables us to provide recreation programs and services in our communities. Our conversations with the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport will be more effective if we are equipped with a supply of industry-generated questions and solutions.
Please click on the button below to email your questions and proposed solutions directly to our Strategy and Policy Consultant, Leanne Schinkel. We will use your feedback and expertise to inform our conversations with the Ministry, and our recommendations for the phases to come.
Please submit your responses by May 1, 2020 @ 5:00 p.m.