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From playgrounds to sport courts, here's a quick look at what's reopening in Metro Vancouver
VANCOUVER -- The caution tape put up in many Metro Vancouver parks and schoolyards is being removed as the region's municipalities prepare to open playgrounds.
Several outdoor recreational facilities were taped off or otherwise closed at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but are expected to reopen as kids head back to school.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province has been working on some guidance for cities, as the amenities fall under municipal jurisdiction.
“We know it has to be done safely, and again, it comes down to the very basics. Making sure that we have small numbers of children, trying to avoid physical contact,” Dr. Henry said. “The other caveat of course is that it’s incumbent on all of us to stay away and to keep our children home if we’re not feeling well or they’re not feeling well.”
In New Westminster, the eight playgrounds that will be opening initially all have access to public washrooms to help facilitate regular hand washing before and after play, according to parks and open space planning manager Erika Mashig.
“It’s really an opportunity to start developing good habits, good patterns around the rules and the new normal for when our indoor facilities and recreation start to open up again,” Mashig said, and added new signs will also be posted reminding people about the precautions such as distancing, and avoiding large gatherings. “If the playgrounds are busy, please do come back at a later time.”
The rest of the city’s playgrounds are expected to open over the summer, but water parks are staying closed for now.
“With all the park amenities, outdoor features, there’s been a coordination effort between municipalities to time these things consistently throughout the Lower Mainland,” Mashig said. “And that’s really to stay in step with each other and make sure we’re not putting any pressures on any other municipality.”
City staff will also continue to monitor playgrounds and other reopened outdoor amenities, to make sure people are playing it safe.
Vancouver will reopen 166 playgrounds as of June 1, coinciding with the resumption of wider in-class instruction at schools. Park board chair Camil Dumont said they have been assured by the health authorities that it’s safe to do so.
“They were never mandated closed. But it’s something we did out of an excess of safety initially,” Dumont said. “We’re confident now that with a certain degree of respect from the users and folks paying attention to what is become our new normal of COVID behaviours that we can reopen safely.”
Among the safety guidelines issued by local municipalities: two-metre physical distancing is still expected, and hands should be washed and/or sanitized regularly, including before and after play.
Children should be told not to touch their face, and should be supervised while on local play structures and other recreation sites.
It is recommended that they avoid playing in large groups, and limit playground use at busy times.
Any personal equipment brought to the park should be disinfected before and after being used, and should not be shared with children from other households.
And anyone who feels sick should stay home.
Here's a look at what some municipalities are reopening in the coming days.
In Vancouver, the city's park board said it would start to reopen more than 320 recreation amenities as of Friday.
Skate parks will open first, and playgrounds will be made available by Monday.
Among the other facilities and amenities being opened over the next few days are:
- Synthetic sports fields
- Basketball courts
- Volleyball courts
- Disc golf courses
- Roller hockey rinks
- Multisport courts
The city has already opened its tennis and pickleball courts, as well as its public golf courses.
In a post on its website, the City of Burnaby says it will start opening its outdoor fitness circuits and playgrounds in city parks starting June 1.
Several other cities in Metro Vancouver are starting to make their rec sites available, including in Delta, where city officials said Thursday that basketball hoops and playgrounds will reopen June 1.
This also includes sites on school property.
Similar recreational facilities are opening in Surrey on the first, and eight of its skate parks will be open this weekend:
- Bear Creek Park
- Royal Kwantlen Park
- Fraser Heights Park
- Cloverdale Fairgrounds
- South Surrey Athletic Park
- Tom Binnie Park
- Surrey Sport and Leisure Complex
Guildford Recreation Centre
New West issued a similar news release, releasing a list of parks opening over the course of next week. It reminded the public that only select sites will be open, and those chosen were due to their proximity to public washrooms to promote handwashing:
- Moody Park
- Port Royal
- Queen's Park
- Hume Park
- Sapperton Park
- Westminster Pier Park
- Grimston Park
Note that not all will be open on Monday, and that the remaining playgrounds will reopen over the summer.
Playground structures are reopening Monday in Maple Ridge, and residents are asked to keep away until then to allow staff to run safety checks and remove caution tape.
School playgrounds in the area will undergo similar checks, then be reopened.
Sites including tennis courts, sports courts, a skate park and two BMX tracks have already been opened in the city.
Crews on the North Shore are also working to have playgrounds ready by June 1.