Venue space rentals at Gray Highlands will have COVID-19 cleaning fees in 2022

Rentals will incur an additional charge of $165, which is the minimum cost to hire a third-party cleaner

Rental of Gray Highlands community spaces will incur additional costs in 2022, due to increased cleaning requirements caused by public health measures related to COVID-19.

Rentals will soon have an additional $165 added to the bill, which is the minimum cost for the municipality to hire a third-party contractor to perform enhanced cleanings.

“In the past, we used to wipe down tables, fold them and put them away if they were used for a meeting. Now that means cleaning every leg, everything, a full, deep clean and we just don’t have the staff to do that,” economic and community development director Michele Harris said in October 2021.

In 2021, the municipality discussed how to cover cleanup costs stemming from community groups that granted free rentals for 2022, which were granted through the municipality’s financial assistance program committee.

This year, the city has approved 237 free rentals for community groups, Parks and Recreation Manager Krista House said at a Jan. 17 community development advisory committee meeting.

These rentals will come with a cleaning bill of approximately $43,000, which will be covered by provincial funding.

“These free rentals are actually covered by a provincial grant that we currently call COVID Safe Restart,” Harris said. “We don’t know when that will end, but we have it right now, so for 2022 those costs are offset by provincial funding.”

House said the fee will be charged while enhanced public health measures are in place.

“This fee will not be charged to community groups who [have] free rentals through the community grants program, but…we still have to pay that cost,” she said. “This $165 is a specific COVID-related cleaning fee that will be assessed for as long as COVID cleaning is needed.”

“If you are renting a hall for a wedding or for a family reunion, an additional minimum of $165 will be assessed there…to ensure that all of our halls are clean to public health standards.”

House suggested that groups who rent community space several times a week could double their bookings to save on the cost of cleaning.

“If you have the same group of people meeting on a Monday night, and you have the same group of people meeting on a Tuesday, both in a municipal space, if those two meetings could happen back to back maybe the same night we would only have to do one cleaning instead of two,” she said.

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