Children will once again be able to get some outdoor time at local playgrounds starting next week.
The City of New Westminster has announced that it will gradually reopen select playgrounds starting Monday, June 1, with playgrounds at Moody Park, Port Royal and Quayside Park leading the way and opening on Monday. Playgrounds at Queen’s Park, Hume Park, Sapperton Park, Westminster Pier Park, and Grimston Park will be reopening throughout the week.
“With the easing of restrictions by the Province of British Columbia, we have been able to gradually reopen many of our park amenities, and are pleased that the community is complying with the guidelines and using these amenities safely,” Mayor Jonathan Cote said in a press release. “I want to continue to remind everyone that we all need to work together and follow the proper protocols so that we can reopen additional amenities going forward.”
According to the city’s press release, the playgrounds that are reopening were identified based on their proximity to public washrooms, where appropriate hand-washing can take place both before and after playground use. Remaining playgrounds will gradually reopen over the summer.
“The playgrounds selected to reopen in this first phase were chosen because they are adjacent to public washrooms. Our goal is to begin to establish good hand-washing habits, and our hope is that those good patterns will carry on when other park amenities reopen,” said Dean Gibson, the city’s director of parks and recreation. “We know our young park users will need to be reminded of the new rules, and we ask parents and caregivers to help children follow the guidelines so everyone can stay safe.”
In an effort to minimize the transmission of COVID-19, the City of New Westminster closed civic facilities and amenities, including parks, in March. Some park features previously reopened, including off-leash dog areas, tennis courts, lacrosse boxes, Mercer track, skate parks and artificial turf fields.
Spray parks, however, will remain closed until further notice.
The City of New Westminster has asked playground users to adhere to the following protocols: washing hands thoroughly before and after using play equipment; maintaining physical distancing; avoiding large groups; limiting use of playgrounds at busy times; and staying at home if ill or exhibiting symptoms.
The city will be installing “kid-friendly” signage at the playgrounds and in the park washrooms reminding everyone to wash their hands both before and after using the play equipment. The city’s physical distancing champions will also be monitoring parks and playgrounds to help promote safe play practices.
Earlier this month, Gibson told council a number of factors will influence the resumption of parks and recreation services through the four phases of the Restart B.C. plan. This includes adherence to the public health officer’s health orders and recommendations, safe working conditions for staff, community need, availability of permanent staff for program development, limitations on the use of auxiliary staff and financial considerations.
According to the press release, the City of New Westminster continues to monitor and follow the orders and recommendations from local health authorities and will slowly reopen other recreation amenities in a phased approach when it has been deemed safe to do so.
Residents who witness others not complying with provincial health orders can report incidents to the COVID-19 compliance hotline by phoning 604-636-4343 or emailing email@example.com.