From the ORCKA Board of Directors re. COVID-19
We’re certainly living in unique times and we hope that you all remain healthy and happy as we live through this challenge! Please continue to support our essential workers by respecting isolation and distancing standards. Our thoughts go out to those in particular who are impacted, have family members who are suffering, or who are experiencing financial and emotional difficulties. The situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve; this communique will clarify ORCKA’s current status and suggestions. We encourage you to look for updates – both on ORCKA’s website, and on federal, provincial, and municipal sites and news bulletins.
ORCKA’s current positions:
1. Conducting ORCKA Programs – Essential Businesses:
As of April 25th, the essential business listing does not include paddling, so in effect we are not permitted to conduct paddling programs as individual businesses, and we need to be cognizant of that. For future dates or more details, see the ontario.ca
site or the specific regulation on the closure of places of non-essential businesses at: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/200082
Note that the above link includes information on private, seasonal campgrounds as well. We all hope that this essential business list will change over time. There have been many studies that advocate for the physical and mental health benefits of outdoor activities like paddling. In a long-term quarantine, these become increasingly important considerations, and ORCKA, along with other similar organizations, continues to advocate for the benefits of outdoor recreation based on a safe, responsible, legal, and morally defensible model.
Having said that, we hope that all paddlers will respect the regulations currently in place. Even a single irresponsible deviation from current regulations can gain media attention and cause negative consequences for the rest of the responsible members of the paddling community.
2. Instructor Recertifications and Getting Back to Paddling:
With the above in mind, ORCKA has suspended the ORCKA Instructor Recertification Program for 2020. All ORCKA Instructors who were due to Recert in either 2019 or 2020 will have their ORCKA Profile updated to reflect the requirement to recertify in 2021. When it comes time to safely and responsibly get back to paddling, ORCKA will carefully read over any fine-print as it becomes available -- Reopening Ontario after COVID-19
-- we will be prepared to provide guidance and recommendations for our membership regarding a reopening of our usual paddling season; when the time comes, and while following public health orders, regulations, and guidelines, ORCKA Organizational and Instructor members will be free to conduct program during what might remain of the 2020 season.
3. ORCKA Office:
Please note that the functions of the ORCKA office are being accomplished remotely for the time being. We will keep you updated as the situation changes, and we appreciate your support and patience in these trying times.
4. Other Recreational Activities, Trips, Courses, etc:
paddling as a recreational activity is currently restricted in the following ways:
a) Access to Parks and Conservation areas: As of April 25th, Ontario’s provincial parks and conservation reserves remain closed through May 31, 2020. This includes car camping, backcountry camping, roofed accommodations, day use opportunities, access points and all public buildings. Provincial parks and conservation reserves will continue to remain fully closed to all recreational activities. For more details, see:
c) General Regulations: Gathering, Distancing, and Personal Protective Equipment regulations are based on common scenarios, but they are the law in all situations, and as paddlers, we need to not only respect the law, but also understand the implications and consequences of specific outdoor scenarios.
ii) Physical Distancing: By now, we’re familiar with the 2 metre rule, but is 2 metres enough? We’d suggest more than 2 metres in any wind conditions - staying much further downwind of potential Covid transmission makes total sense.
iii) Other Issues for Paddlers: There are many other paddling-related issues that might be challenges in these times. Please use your best discretion to avoid putting yourself and others at risk. For example, physical distancing regulations would be difficult at best in a rescue situation, so we need to avoid this by ensuring that we are not put into that situation. Expecting others to compromise their health in rescues because of incompetence or arrogance is not cool. Car pooling is also currently a casualty of physical distancing. In fact, we need to assess all of our activities from a fresh risk management perspective.
Some useful resources:
In summary, the ORCKA Board is very cognizant of the limitations of programming capacity in these Covid times, but we want to assure you that we are still working to further the cause of paddling and the abilities of our organizational and instructor members to return to the safe delivery of ORCKA programming when regulations permit. Please stay safe, stay well, and, as a Paddling Community, let’s all do our part to ensure a smooth and ethical return to safe outdoor paddling pursuits!
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.