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Incident over entry to Oilfields Arena under investigation

“We had our first major incident last night, where the RCMP had to be called in." — Black Diamond CAO Sharlene Brown.

Oilfields Regional Arena staff had to eject a person on the evening of Oct. 5 who was angry that COVID vaccination proof is required to enter the facility.  

Black Diamond CAO Sharlene Brown asked council to provide up to $16,000 to allow the Town to pay for a security guard as a result of the confrontation.

“We had our first major incident last night, where the RCMP had to be called in,” Brown told council.

No RCMP members were available and Brown said she was in contact with the police the following morning.

Turner Valley RCMP Staff Sgt. Laura Akitt said they are investigating and will be taking statements from Town staff about the incident.

“I just received the information from the Black Diamond CAO yesterday and we will be following up,” Akitt said. “There will be an investigation, absolutely.”

This is the first time the Turner Valley RCMP have a complaint stemming from the requirement for proof of vaccination to enter some indoor public buildings. However, they have received complaints about people not complying with masking rules in the past, she said, adding most are following the COVID restrictions.

“I think for the most part people are doing the right thing and following the Alberta Health services guidelines as well as the Provincial mandates,” she said.

As of Sept. 20, the provincial government implemented a program that allows facilities like hockey arenas to admit patrons with proof of vaccination. The REP allows indoor facilities to go beyond a one-third capacity limit.

Black Diamond opted to implement the REP program for its indoor recreation centre and Brown said until Tuesday night, there had been no problems.

“We are doing our best to implement an REP program to keep our arena facilities running through these COVID new world of restrictions,” Brown said. “It had been going along fairly well.”

On Oct. 6, town councillors agreed to fund up to $16,000 for security for the building going forward.

Brown said it should not be up to staff, who make significantly less than security guards, to have to deal with people who are angry they have to be vaccinated against COVID to be in the arena.

“We shouldn’t have our staff subject to those types of abuses from the public,” she said.

Coun. Daryl Lalonde agreed security personnel should be dealing with checking and enforcing vaccination status and entry into the arena.

“Let’s let somebody who is trained do it, enforce it,” he said. “If anyone gets out of hand – goodbye.”