On May 23, The Rock Oasis became the first climbing gym in Canada to reopen its doors. Like all climbing gyms in Canada, the facility had to close due to the covid-19 pandemic.
The Rock Oasis announced that it would hold a soft reopening on May 16. On social media platforms, the Ontario gym received pushback from the Ontario climbing community. The facility recognized that there would be concerns and welcomed input from the community.
Those concerns were related to the sterilization of climbing holds as well as the dangers of exercising in an enclosed space. To mitigate the risk, The Rock Oasis created a list of policies designed to limit disease transmission.
There was confusion related to the legality of reopening. According to The Rock Oasis, The Stop the Spread Business Hotline indicated that the gym could reopen on three separate phone calls. Even still, concern persisted and the gym was reported to by-law enforcement.
On May 31, 2020, The Rock Oasis had to re-close its doors. According to their Instagram post regarding this closure, by-law enforcement “have now ruled that we can open as long as each participant joins the Ontario Climbing Federation (OCF). The OCF is not accepting members at this time so we are forced to close. We will reopen again as soon as possible.”
The OCF also released a statement on May 31, 2020. In this statement, the OCF said, “Under paragraph 34.4 of the list, certain sport facilities are permitted to reopen for the purpose of training amateur or professional athletes. However, such facilities must be members of a provincial sport organization (PSO) recognized by the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. As we said in our earlier statement, the OCF is not a recognized PSO at this time. Therefore paragraph 34.4 does not apply to the OCF and our members. The Ministry has confirmed this in writing.”
The OCF went on to say, “While we continue to collaborate with and support Ontario climbing gyms, we are unable to authorize gym reopenings. Climbing gyms are independent businesses, and the OCF does not regulate or oversee their operations.”
As Canada’s governments and communities work to keep people safe and reopen the country, there will be confusion. These are unique times. Fortunately, climbers are fortunate to have strong community leadership that are working with their respective communities and gym owners to keep people safe.