Winnipeg summer leisure guide ramps up offerings, but some courses absent as city bounces back from pandemic

Winnipeggers can register for summer leisure guide courses starting Tuesday, and though many popular programs are back after a two-year pandemic hiatus, some remain on hold.

The City of Winnipeg is slowly ramping up overall summer services, said the city’s manager of recreational services.

“We’re in a process of recovery and finding instructors, and also ensuring that we’re opening up safely,” Jennifer Sarna told Up to Speed host Faith Fundal on Thursday. 

“Ultimately it’s just a process in which two years has really turned things upside down for many of us.”

Sarna suggested one reason certain courses aren’t available yet has to do with a shortage of instructors in some areas.

Cooking classes are among those not being offered right now, but that could change once the city finds more instructors.

Otherwise, the active living portfolio has 407 courses to choose from, which Sarna says is much higher than the past two years of the pandemic.

The city will also continue to offer outdoor options for certain programs.

“What we’re excited about is just getting back into play,” said Sarna. “We’re in a really good place to really support the fundamentals of physical literacy, and engagement and inclusion and co-operation … through play.”

She is anticipating that swimming lessons — always in high demand — will again be among the most popular activities. Some lessons were provided outdoors during the pandemic, which will continue to be an option, said Sarna.

“That’s a little bit of a new normal that we are trying to support and people really enjoyed,” she said.

Cartown — a children’s road safety program at Sam Southern Arena — will be offered again beginning in mid-June. The course caters to kids age four to seven and teaches them road safety through a small-scale, interactive town with pretend traffic signs and fines. At the end of it all, kids are issued a licence — also pretend.

This year, the city will also have a recreation fee subsidy. Sarna said that stems from a commitment to reduce cost barriers for those who might not otherwise be able to afford programming.

“It’s been very important for us to really encourage and open the doors to participating for all,” she said.

Winnipeggers with a special skill to share that could be part of a leisure guide course can contact 311 or express interest in instructing through the city website. Some summer instructor positions remain open, said Sarna.

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