True North Climbing remains closed until further notice.
True North Climbing is remaining closed until further notice.
The series of announcements by the Ontario and Toronto governments has been confusing and complex. I know that Ontario climbing gym owners have received conflicting guidance from government authorities. I want to try to explain why we have made the decisions we have made.
On November 3rd the Ontario government announced the new colour-coded system for regulating businesses. This is described at a high level at http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/7281345/COVID-19-Daily-Update-Nov-3-9-a-M.pdf. Page 14 of that document shows the rules affecting our business. It seemed that Toronto would move into the Orange category effective November 14th. Our understanding of the regulations led us to plan a reopening for that date, and we opened bookings again for up to 40 climbers at a time under that understanding.
On November 10th the City of Toronto announced that Toronto would move into the Red category, not Orange, along with some additional restrictions. This would limit us to 10 climbers at a time.
We have now found Ontario’s detailed written regulations for the colour-coded system: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/200364. If you save this as a Microsoft Word document and then look at the top of page 10 (or scroll down about 2/3 of the way through the document), you’ll find this requirement:
10. Activities must not be practised or played within the facility if they require the use of fixed structures that cannot be cleaned and disinfected between each use or, where used in a game or practice, at the end of play.
We had been disinfecting the holds on our walls each night using a fogging machine. It’s simply not practicable or economically feasible to do this after each use of each hold, or even after each reserved session. Note that this requirement is for areas in the Orange category (also applied to Red).
Based on this, we have concluded that the current Ontario regulations do not allow us to be open.
A separate issue is whether we should remain open, even if the law allowed us to. Given the rapid rise in case numbers in Toronto and the very strong message from the Toronto Medical Officer of Health, Dr Eileen de Villa (see https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/986c-MOH-Statement_10November2020.pdf), our conclusion is that we should not be open at this time, even if the regulations allowed us to be.
The current Red status for Toronto is from November 14th through December 11th. We plan to continue to work with both levels of government to seek more clarity on how the current regulations apply to indoor climbing facilities, with the hope of getting recognition that the use of masks and frequent cleaning of hands between climbs is a reasonable alternative to the requirement to clean all fixed structures after each use. If we succeed in doing that, we may reopen if the case numbers drop sufficiently in the coming weeks.
Our priorities are:
- Obey the laws and regulations as we understand them
- Do whatever we can reasonably do to keep our staff and customers safe
- Keep our business sustainable long-term
- Take care of our full-time and part-time staff as best we can, by providing work, wages and benefits for them where possible
- Provide climbing services and products subject to the above
We apologize to customers who had booked climbing sessions starting November 14th. Those will now be cancelled, and all fees paid will be refunded or applied as credit towards future services. Recreational and Competitive Youth Programs will remain on hold. All memberships remain frozen with no billing or freeze fees until further notice.
Owner, True North Climbing