Reopening Monday August 3rd!
July 30, 2020 Update (see below for previous updates)
We’re ready to climb with you again!
With yesterday’s announcement that Toronto is ready to move to Stage 3, we are excited to announce that True North Climbing will reopen on Monday, August 3rd.
Please carefully review our new policies and procedures at https://www.truenorthclimbing.com/reopening-policies/. There are some important constraints.
All visitors must complete a new COVID-19 waiver at https://bit.ly/covid19_waiver
Climbing is by reservation only, with limited numbers of climbers per session. Sessions must be booked in advance at https://bit.ly/TN_climbingbookings
We are excited to be able to welcome you back to climb. We know all of this is very different, and the situation is difficult for everyone. We ask for your patience and kindness to help make this work. Thank you for your support as we work our way back to something close to normal.
July 11, 2020 Update (see below for previous updates)
We have been busy preparing to reopen. I am aware that some other gyms in Ontario have reopened or are about to do so, and that many in our community are anxious for True North Climbing to reopen as well.
The provincial regulations governing indoor sports & recreation centres have been updated (see https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/R20324?fbclid=IwAR3FDxU8xcXoDMSWRTgoiGAmgF53Q_gtow0gNJddMaxY3YUn_gAWgEEnTF4). Multiple climbing gyms have asked for clarity about what this means, and have received different answers from different bylaw officers. This lack of both consistency and clarity is frustrating. My interpretation is that we are permitted to resume training of our youth competitive team at this time (for athletes who are current members of the Ontario Climbing Federation), but not for public climbing beyond that.
We were the first climbing gym in North America to close down in March, in response to the provincial government’s announcement about an extended March break. I continue to be cautious about reopening. I am choosing to put the safety of our staff and customers ahead of all else, despite the extreme financial cost of staying closed. I also understand the impact on all of us of not being able to resume climbing. I plan to reopen when the provincial government announces that Toronto is ready to move to Stage 3. I feel we should not reopen at a time when outdoor playgrounds and most indoor gyms and sports facilities remain closed.
I am hopeful that we will be ready to resume limited operations later this month. I appreciate all the support I have received from the community over the past few months. Thank you for your patience as we wait a little longer.
Owner, True North Climbing
May 31, 2020 Update (original closure notice appears below)
It has been about 2 1/2 months since we closed due to COVID-19. I want to give you all an update on what we have been up to since, and share my outlook for what lies ahead.
Since closing, we got some maintenance work done, including flooring repairs, and re-texturing of old holds. We received shipments of new holds that had been on order, so when we reopen there will be lots of new stuff going up on the walls!
We have been meeting regularly via Zoom with other Ontario climbing gyms, and also relying on the Climbing Wall Association (CWA), Climbing Escalade Canada (CEC), the Ontario government, and gyms in the United States that have already reopened, to develop our operating plans for when we are ready to open. When we do so, things will look very different from how our business operated before. Here is our current thinking, which may still evolve a little:
- Members & 10-pass holders will likely be given priority at first.
- No groups, birthday parties or day camp at first. No introductory lessons or belay/lead tests at first. There will likely be limits on climbing by children.
- Everyone entering the gym must check in and out. This will enable us to produce a contact tracing report showing who was in the gym at the same time as any person, in the event we learn that someone has tested positive.
- Limited occupancy overall and limits on how many can be in specific areas such as the washrooms, training area, etc.
- Climbing only by reservation in 2-hour time slots
- We may require climbers to book either bouldering or roped/auto-belay climbing for each session, with limits on each activity
- We may run extended hours (6am-midnight?) if we think enough people would come in that early
- No use of lockers or showers or the drinking fountain (bottle spout allowed); climbers should arrive ready to climb
- Physical distancing within the gym, including not having climbers on adjacent routes at the same time
- All staff and climbers must wear a face mask at all times, and will be urged to clean their hands before climbing and between climbs (hand sanitizer will be provided throughout the gym).
- No eating in the gym
- Liquid chalk strongly encouraged
- We will keep the large loading bay doors open when the weather permits to improve the ventilation. This may result in warmer temperatures in the gym than normal.
We would assess each measure on a weekly basis, and adjust accordingly as appropriate.
As to the big question: when will we reopen? I am looking to see most or all of the following:
- Clear direction from the provincial and municipal governments that it’s OK for indoor recreational sports to resume and for limited contact across households (because most climbers’ belay partners won’t be from the same household)
- I want to see Ontario’s curve of new cases per day look more like that of BC, Alberta, Nova Scotia or New Brunswick (source)
- Signs that Ontario’s testing and contact tracing is prepared to provide an understanding of where any new outbreaks are happening and be able to contain them. Both testing and contact tracing have improved, but I’m not yet convinced they are where they need to be.
- Other similar business (e.g. Goodlife, gymnastics clubs) ready to re-open. Our holds are touch points that are harder to keep clean than theirs, so we will not open sooner than those other businesses.
My team and I are grateful for all the support that has been communicated to us during this difficult time. We are looking forward to welcoming you all back as soon as we feel it is safe to do so.
John and the TNC team
To all members of the True North Climbing community,
We have been monitoring the data about the current COVID-19 situation, and considering how we should respond for the past few days. Things have changed quickly. Yesterday’s announcement by the provincial government that all public schools will be closed through April 5th was a surprise, and underscored the importance of staying ahead of the outbreak as much as possible.
We are not aware of any of our staff or customers testing positive for COVID-19.
However, after careful consideration and discussion with my staff, I have decided to close the gym, effective immediately. While there is not yet proof of community transmission locally, the medical experts believe this is already happening and just not yet detected, and we are listening to them. Climbing gyms are efficient places for such diseases to spread, and I would not want to find out a week or two from now that someone who did not know they had this disease had spread it throughout our community. I believe taking this action proactively, before it is too late, is the right thing to do.
The gym will remain closed until we believe it is safe to reopen. An extended closure will severely strain our resources. We intend to do what we can to support our employees as much as we can during the closure, while also managing expenses responsibly to keep the business sustainable as long as possible. We ask our customers to help us do that.
Here’s what that means:
Members: Prepaid members will have their expiry dates extended by the number of days the gym is closed. Frozen memberships will not be charged any freeze fees during the closure. Monthly EFT members will receive a credit towards their next billing corresponding to the number of days lost due to closure.
Youth Competitive Team: All training sessions are cancelled until further notice. Team members will receive a credit towards their next billing corresponding to the time lost.
Youth Recreational Program: All classes are cancelled this weekend. The start of the Spring session is postponed until at least the week of April 17th. Accounts will be credited corresponding to the lost sessions. We ask customers to accept a credit towards future services if they can.
March Break Day Camp: Cancelled. We ask customers to accept a credit towards future services if they can.
Other Events: All bookings for school groups, birthday parties, weekend scramble sessions and other events are cancelled through at least April 5th. We ask customers to accept a credit towards future services if they can.
Our 10th Anniversary Party (planned for Saturday March 28th) is postponed until it is safe to celebrate our first decade (and the resumption of climbing) together. It will be worth the wait. The T shirts are cool.
Our planned screening of the No Mans Land Film Festival (planned for Monday April 6th) is postponed until it is safe to reschedule. This will be a great show, and another nice way to celebrate a return to normal. Thank you to the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema and the No Mans Land Film Festival for accommodating this change without penalty!
All of this is very disruptive, to our climbing community and to our staff. It will be a serious strain on the business, but everyone’s health and safety come first. We will weather this storm and be back. In the meantime our team will continue work where possible on some maintenance tasks and other work to make sure the gym is in great shape when things settle down.
Thanks for your support. Please take care of yourselves and your families and follow the advice of the medical experts:
Owner, True North Climbing