City hall, some other offices set to reopen this week. Townsman file photo.

UPDATED: Council approves plan to reopen municipal offices, city playgrounds

Cranbrook is eyeing a reopening of city offices and facilities over the next week, which have been either closed or under restricted public access due to health orders from the provincial government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While tennis courts, pickleball courts and the ball fields have already opened, outdoor washrooms and basketball courts are set to be accessible by Friday, May 29.

The city will follow up with reopening city hall, Building Services and Bylaw, and Public Works on June 1st.

According to a staff report, individual departments have drawn up plans to align with WorkSafeBC requirements, including the use of physical barriers, social distancing, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and hand sanitizer.

Additional openings set for next Monday include city playgrounds, Idlewild Park washroom at the playground level, the seniors fitness are at Western Financial Place and the skatepark. The city advises that anyone using playgrounds should bring their own sanitizer and adhere to the public health orders issued by the province.

Some amenities that remain closed inlcude the BMX track, splash pads and spray parks, washrooms at Moir Park and Lion’s field, and the BMX track, which is currently under reconstruction.

“We continue to work with the Province and the BC Recreation and Parks Association, to develop safe processes to open remaining outdoor facilities where there is increased concern over social distancing challenges,” said Chris New, Director of Community Services, in a news release. “We appreciate the public’s patience while we continue to work hard to opening more outdoor space.”

Western Financial Place and the Aquatic Centre remain closed with hopes that the facility could open for the summer, while Kinsmen and Memorial Arena will likely not be opened until September, according to the report.

The Cranbrook Public Library is allowing curbside pickup of books and material, however, public access inside the building remains restricted.

During Monday’s city council meeting, Councillor Wes Graham questioned who bears responsibility for ‘policing’ the parks, given that the physical distancing orders are being issued by the province.

“I think it should be opened up and people can police themselves and if the province is that concerned, there’s a public health order, so the IHA [Interior Health Authority] should be stepping in,” Graham said. “I think that the city is not the best facilitator for that. We are roads, streets and bylaw, that’s not our wheelhouse.”

For any organized sports that operate under a league format such as minor sports leagues, New told council it will be up to specific organizations to come up with plans demonstrating to the city that athletes and teams can play their sport while adhering to the public health orders.

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