Game over for New Westminster’s tennis courts and lacrosse boxes

If the arrival of spring makes you want to hit the tennis courts or lacrosse box, you’re out of luck.

Local tennis courts and lacrosse boxes are the latest public amenities to be shuttered by the City of New Westminster in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. In response to concerns about social distancing compliance and the potential transmission of the coronavirus, the city has now closed its tennis courts and lacrosse boxes.

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“All tennis courts that are owned by the city will be closed, as will the city’s lacrosse boxes,” said Dean Gibson, the city’s director of parks and recreation. “What we had been finding was a slow but steady trend, particularly in the tennis courts, for challenges respecting the physical distancing aspects of things.”

With neighbouring municipalities having previously closed their tennis courts, Gibson said word was getting out that courts were open in New West and they became a “hot spot” for tennis players. He said staff also had some concerns about the possible transmission of COVID-19 via the exchange of a tennis ball between players.

“As we started thinking about that a little bit further, that, combined with some of the emerging challenges with physical distancing, put us in the position of needing to close those facilities at this stage of the game,” he told city council Monday.

While lacrosse is a rite of spring for many local youth, the city decided it needed to close the outdoor boxes.

“The lacrosse boxes have been closed as well, in part because they are being utilized by some members of the public as an alternate to off-leash dog areas,” Gibson said. “The challenges that we had at off-leash dog areas with social distancing are manifesting themselves in the lacrosse boxes. With the much more favourable warmer weather, we are finding some of the things with larger groups beginning to use those lacrosse boxes for lacrosse and other sports. It was a challenge for us to manage the levels of recommended physical distancing that the health officials have been recommending.”

Gibson said the latest closures of parks amenities puts New Westminster “squarely in line” with what’s happening in most neighbouring municipalities. Signage will inform members of the public these spaces are closed.

While the city has the authority to close its tennis courts, he said the closure doesn’t apply to courts owned by other organizations, such as strata developments.

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