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  • Sinclair Park

The Closure of Sinclair Park

Some of our open gym players are already aware of this, but it's time to make the announcement public. As of this afternoon, we are having to make the extremely difficult decision to close our doors for the time being. With all of our rentals either cancelling their dates or postponing them, we can no longer afford to keep the building staffed and programs running. We always tell our open gym players that the only way we can afford to run open gym is by renting our our halls for private functions. When those dry up, so does our ability to pay for things, including the staff and the bills.

You know, we've sat here for hours today, just trying to figure out how to make this post. It certainly isn't easy, telling people something that you never thought you would have to tell them. How do we tell our open gym users, the ones that have supported us through everything, that we can no longer afford to keep our doors open? How do we tell parents, the ones who were banking on having a place for their children to go over the next few weeks, that we cannot help them any more? How do we tell the entire community that we can no longer be open for them?

We wanted to be blunt, to rip it off like a bandage, but it seemed too cold, and too callous. We started by telling the people who called us, and people who came in to the facility. We had to let all of our weekly programs know that we cannot host them right now. Their responses were all the same, dismay and frustration. 'Why are you closing? You had said that you were staying open for now,' they all said. The only answer we could give is that we had intended on staying open, and we didn't anticipate the end coming so soon. We thought that we would have enough revenue to last us a few weeks. As it turns out, we were so very, very wrong.

Our rentals are our blood and our lifeline. They are how we afford to keep the doors open for free programs. Once you understand that, you'll start to understand why we cannot afford to be open when we have lost nearly $20,000 in revenue over the next six weeks. Our renters are amazing people, and most of them have moved their events to later dates, so we will eventually recoup some of this amount. However, income earned two months from now doesn't allow us to pay the monthly $4,000 bill from Manitoba Hydro that we got two days ago.

We cannot thank our rentals enough for being understanding with us during this time. We thank them for realizing that we only have limited dates to work with, that there are times that we cannot do things, and we are doing our absolute best to make things right for you. We cannot say enough good things for all of the rentals who refrained from yelling at our staff, who did not berate them and tell them that they needed to do better, who understood that they were already doing everything that was in their power to do. Our renters truly prove that times like these can bring out the absolute best in people, and we will never be able to thank you enough.

That said, these times can also bring out the worst in people. Our staff have had to deal with everything from renters who are unhappy with the options we have given them for their events, to parents who are angry that we aren't running programs for their children, to parents who are angry that we were open at all. We've had to deal with rentals posting all over social media about how we did not give them a refund for their event, despite us having incurred costs for their event already and offered to change the date at no cost to them. We've had to deal with people posting that we're only open because we are naive, and we want to be heroes. We've had to deal with parents posting that we clearly aren't a well run community centre if we aren't running children's programming while the schools are shut down.

All of this, and more, has been thrown at our staff over the past week, and each and every one of our staff dealt with everything. We are so grateful for them, there are no words to describe it. Our staff are the soul of Sinclair Park, and they are so often underappreciated when they deserve far more from us. When the news broke about COVID-19 being present in Winnipeg, they were all asked if they felt comfortable being scheduled for shifts. Not a single staff member was forced to work if they did not want to. This means that all of the staff members you have seen at Sinclair Park over the past week? They all said yes, they all wanted to work, and wanted to keep the facility open for people to use. Some of them have offered to come in without pay, just so that we could stay open. We could not say yes to this in good conscience, but they made the offer to us anyway. We wanted to stay open for everybody, we truly did.

For all that has been said, it still leaves us in the same place that we were in the beginning. As of tonight, we have to close the doors to our facility, and we do not know when we will be able to reopen them. We know that this will anger some people, while making others very happy. We saw this with our initial decision to remain open. We had some people who came to us and thanked us for being open, while we had others calling us and asking our staff how they could sleep at night, knowing that they were going to infect everyone. By tonight, we'll be dealing with people who are happy that we finally 'came to our senses' and closed the doors, and also parents who are telling us that they have to go to work, and if their child gets hurt while they're home alone, it will be our fault.

While we clearly cannot win in this situation, please be assured that we will be reopening as soon as we are able to do so. Once we get the announcement that we have funding for the staff and the bills, we will have our doors open again. When will that be? We wish we knew, but we promise to keep people updated even while we're closed. We want to thank everyone for their patience and understanding right now. Closing our doors was never our intention, but we fully anticipate having them opened again as soon as we possibly can.

Thank you all for your support of Sinclair Park. this blog will continue to be updated as frequently as possible. We want to keep people in the loop with what our plans are going forward. We cannot promise the daily updates like you have been getting, but it will still be updated.


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