City waives park fees for yoga studio to hold outdoor classes

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A Woodstock yoga studio facing another summer of pandemic restrictions had the city’s fee waived for use of a city park for outdoor yoga classes, something councillors say was a small show of support for struggling businesses.

Katherine deBoer, co-owner of Radiant Health Yoga in downtown Woodstock, wrote to council last week to ask for relief from the city’s permit fee for use of Roth Park up to four times per week, citing the impact of pandemic restrictions on her studio.

“I am expecting that strong distancing measures will be in place for some time once we are permitted to open. These distancing measures restrict our ability to fully utilize our yoga studio and to make the profit we once enjoyed, not to mention the impact of being closed and restricted to virtual classes only. … Warm weather is coming, and we would love to offer our yoga classes to our customers only outdoors at Roth Park. Many people would feel significantly safer outdoors and the number of participants is likely to be more than what we can accommodate at our studio,” deBoer wrote in her letter to council.

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In receiving her letter, councillors made a motion to support the request, noting the hardships faced by many of the city’s small businesses during the pandemic.

“Katherine has run Radiant Health Yoga in town for quite some time. We still don’t know where this is all going this year. The way vaccines are being rolled out and the way the variants are coming, we could be in this type of situation for still some time even if we look forward,” Coun. Sandra Talbot said. “If we can give some type of relief so that people are still able to do business, I think we should try and help them.”

Brian Connors, the city’s parks director, said the fee for use of the park is typically about $6 per hour.

“It isn’t much, but one of the more important pieces to this is there is no additional expenditures. We would be cutting the grass in the park space no matter what. If people are asking for a building space … or a ball field, let’s say, (there are) additional expenditures to getting that set up where this one doesn’t,” he said.

Coun. Connie Lauder noted it would typically be against city policy to waive fees for a business – but said she agreed with the motion in light of the pandemic and the struggles facing many city businesses.

“I think we may have quite a few more of these come to council – for karate lessons, dance studios, weightlifting, several other businesses, so I guess we’ll be prepared to hear more of these in the future,” Mayor Trevor Birtch said.

In her letter to council, deBoer said the weather-permitting classes will be open to customers. The studio will also comply with public-health regulations in place for outdoor gatherings.

City council granted the request until Oct. 31.

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