16 city councillors call on Premier to permit outdoor recreation

(Following is an open letter signed by 16 city councillors and sent to Premier Doug Ford on Wednesday. Under the current stay at home order, all sports fields, courts and other outdoor amenities are closed, excepting children’s play structures. For more info on COVID-related rules, see ottawa.ca.)

Dear Premier Ford,

We are writing to you today to urge the Provincial Government to consider re-opening outdoor recreational activities that can be safely enjoyed in a physically distanced manner, including golf, tennis, and pickle ball. We would also support activities such as basketball, and skateboarding in skate parks, as long as good COVID-19 protocols are in place, such as physical distancing and mask wearing.

The pandemic has stretched on for over a year now, and the residents of Ottawa are looking for safe ways that they can get outdoors to be physically active, and to maintain their mental health and wellbeing.

The Stay-At-Home Order, and the necessary expansion of restrictions required to protect the health of our communities is not in question, and we are equally concerned about the current state of the pandemic, including the variants of concern which are taking a hold in our community. We also appreciate that the province is operating in a very challenging and ever- changing environment.

Our concerns revolve around removing the few remaining safe ways that people can be active outdoors, in a physically distanced way.

Activities such as golf, tennis, and pickle ball, all lend themselves to physical distancing. When distancing requirements are adhered to, these types of outdoor activities can be a safe way for people to enjoy public spaces during the pandemic.

Golf courses in the Ottawa area have also gone to great lengths to introduce additional measures to ensure the safety of their guests. These include requiring golfers to remain in their vehicles until their tee time and removing the rakes from sand pits. In addition to these measures, golf courses could encourage people from the same households to play together.

We are supportive of fair, reasonable, and evidence-based measures that will lead to better health outcomes.

We feel that the benefits to the physical and mental health and well-being of re-opening outdoor recreational activities far outweigh the risks associated with keeping them closed.

We thank you for your attention to this issue.

Yours Sincerely,

Councillor Diane Deans, Gloucester-Southgate

Councillor Eli El-Chantiry, West Carleton-March

Councillor George Darouze, OsgoodeCouncillor Jan Harder, Barrhaven

Councillor Matthew Luloff, Orleans

Councillor Mathieu Fleury, Rideau-Vanier

Councillor Catherine Kitts, Cumberland

Councillor Catherine McKenney, Somerset

Councillor Tim Tierney, Beacon Hill-Cyrville

Councillor Riley Brockington, River

Councillor Laura Dudas, Innes

Councillor Rawlson King, Rideau-Rockcliffe

Councillor Glen Gower, Stittsville

Councillor Theresa Kavanagh, Bay

Councillor Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi

Councillor Rick Chiarelli, College