Plans are underway to reopen city parks and recreational facilities following approval of a strategy from city council earlier this week.
With guidance and input from viaSPORT and the B.C. Recreation and Parks Association, the city has been working to find ways for sports to return to local facilities later this summer.
The Aquatic Centre is tentatively scheduled for reopening in late August or early September, according to a news release. The city had been waiting on guidance recently provided by the Provincial Health Office, and any reopening is expected to have reduced hours at first, before expanding if appropriate and safe.
Transmission of the coronavirus through chlorinated water is not an issue. However, the concern centres on reduced capacity in the pool, appropriate activities that can be allowed with physical distancing principles in mind, managing the movement of users throughout the hallways and change rooms, as well as protective equipment and training for staff and lifeguards.
“We are following the provincially endorsed guidelines to gradually move to more access to recreation,” says Chris New, Director of Community Services. “We were recently able to expand sport groups use on our fields and group bookings in our parks, still within a framework of restrictions. I anticipate some developments on outdoor splash pads soon. Now we will gradually work toward moving to re-open some indoor activities.”
Reopening Western Financial Place is expected to align closely with the Aquatic Centre, however, some outstanding capital work remains on the arena side of the facility. Roof reconstruction is ongoing, while the arena boards are being replaced and a new score clock is being installed.
On the pool side, a new chlorination system and sound baffling are also being put into place. The squash/racquetball court will remain closed.
The Memorial Arena is set to reopen in early August, as four different hockey camps are set to get underway, as well as training sessions for groups that include figure skating. Anyone wishing to use the Memorial Arena must put together a plan that follows the viaSPORT requirements, and follow guidelines issued by a Provincial Sport Organization, as well as any additional rules put in place by the city.
Restrictions will be in place that apply to the number of spectators and on-ice skaters while there will be no access to change rooms or showers.
The Kinsmen Arena will remain closed until further notice, along with city splash pads and spray parks.
The city release also cautions that things aren’t necessarily ‘back to normal’ as parks and recreational facilities reopen. Practice physical distancing if possible and wear masks if it’s not, keep social circles small and wash hands frequently.