The drum beat to safely reopen outdoor activities is getting louder and the mayors of Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills have joined the chorus.
Along with Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr, Halton’s four mayors issued a joint statement on Tuesday aimed at the provincial government reiterating a “safe return” to sports before they consider extending the Stay-At-Home emergency order beyond May 20.
The statement was endorsed by Burlington Mayor Marianne Weed, Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, Milton Mayor Gord Krantz, Town of Halton Hills Mayor Rick Bonnette and Carr.
“Outdoor activities done safely with physical distancing and masking are a necessary support to physical and mental health, especially during this prolonged period of lockdown,” the statement said.
Guidance provided by the COVID-19 Science Advisory Table for Ontario, and endorsed by the Ontario Medical Association, encourages safe outdoor activities, the statement reminded.
“Policies that discourage safe outdoor activity will not control COVID-19 and will disproportionately harm children and those who do not have access to their own greenspace, especially those living in crowded conditions,” the Science Table notes.
The four local mayors and chair, who say they are continuing to discourage large gatherings, are also supportive of Halton students who are calling for a safe to return to sports.
The Halton District School Board’s (HDSB) Student Senate recently passed a motion declaring sports essential in students’ lives and created a Safe Sports sub-committee, co-chaired by two Halton students.
The committee seeks to work with the Province to develop a plan for the safe return of sports, beginning with low-contact sports such as track and field, tennis, badminton, and swimming.
“In light of the evidence and advice from the Science Table, we renew our call to the Province to review and reconsider the list of currently prohibited activities,” the issued statement from the mayors concluded. “We further call on the provincial government to consult with school boards and our youth to design a safe return to sports plan, so that low-contact sports can resume as soon as it is safe to do so.”