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Recreation facilities starting to re-open—slowly

By Don Fennell

Published 11:14 PDT, Wed May 20, 2020

Richmond is taking the first steps to re-opening its recreation amenities.

Though a return to organized games will have to wait, most outdoor parks, including basketball and outdoor tennis courts, opened today (May 20) as part of the city’s plan to restore services closed or restricted due to COVID-19.

Council approved implementing its program and services restoration plan, a step-by-step approach to opening various city services—all while stressing the need for people to maintain physical distancing and health guidelines.

“This is a carefully-planned and phased approach to restoring many of the amenities and services closed in our community while maintaining and protecting public safety,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie. “We know the past few months have brought uncertainty, frustration and even fear and that there is desire to restore services and facilities to where they were before the pandemic.”

But Brodie cautioned it is crucial any decisions the city makes in the coming weeks “must not compromise ongoing efforts to flatten the curve of COVID-19.”

“That is why this plan is a cautious, step-by-step approach to returning access to the community in a controlled, staged and responsible manner.”

The initial phase of re-opening recreational amenities also includes bike and skate, lacrosse and volleyball courts. But the number of users permitted at any one time will be limited to eight people. Again, the city stressed there must be no organized games. A second round of recreational openings is being planned for May 27. But, again, no organized competition will be allowed.

The city will be closely monitoring the success of the initial phase of re-opening, ensuring users are adhering to the rules and guidelines. Community ambassadors and bylaw officers will patrol parks and other areas to remind people of the rules and reinforce the need for safety. Signage will also be installed at the sites.

Based on the success of phase one, the city will move to a second phase of expanded openings to include access to outdoor park amenities such as playgrounds and picnic tables, and permitting more players on basketball and volleyball courts at one time. 

Outdoor programs such as Walk Richmond will also be restored, and outdoor fitness classes could be offered through some community centres on a controlled basis. A date for commencing a second phase has not yet been determined.

Re-opening of more recreation facilities, outdoor swimming pools, arenas and some registered programs and services could also be considered as part of later phases.

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