(A golf hole at the Amberwood Village Golf & Country Club in Stittsville. Photo: Amberwood)
There has been an outpouring of pleas to have golf courses opened up to provide the physical activity we all are craving after spending the winter season indoors. Golf course and driving range owners state they can open their facilities safely, with physical distancing and customers wearing masks. The owners have added extra measures to ensure that the safety of their customers is first and foremost.
Councillor Diane Deans took the lead on the issue, along with the support of 16 Ottawa Councillors including Councillor Gower. Deans has written a letter to Premier Ford emphasizing the safe way in which golf courses, pickle ball and tennis courts can open.
With the current lockdown in place until May 20th, these outdoor activities and others are important to the wellness and mental health of residents.
Councillor Gower told Stittsville Central, “To me it doesn’t make sense that a father and daughter can’t kick a soccer ball together at the local park, or that a couple of seniors can’t play a game of tennis. These activities can be done safely with physical distancing and masks. It’s important to get outside and exercise for our mental and physical health.”
Petitions have been drawn up with thousands of signatures asking the Premier to open golf courses, letters written to MPPs and outspoken requests from course owners asking for the re-opening to occur. Just the other day, Golf North Properties added a world map to their Twitter account that distinctly shows Ontario is the only district in the world where golfing is illegal during the pandemic.
With the support of our Ottawa Councillors added to the hundreds of thousands of Ontario residents wanting our golf courses re-opened, one can only hope that the Premier will listen (this time) and we will be hearing ‘Fore’ out on the greens.
Below is the letter that was sent to Premier Ford from the 16 signatories requesting consideration to open up:
April 28, 2021
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 everchanging 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.
Councillor Diane Deans, Gloucester-Southgate
Councillor Eli El-Chantiry, West Carleton-March
Councillor George Darouze, Osgoode
Councillor 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