Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are joining many cities across B.C. awakening from a recreation hibernation.
The province’s four-step restart plan was released on May 25.
As is typical following long periods of inactivity, city staff are not rushing the return.
Pitt Meadows’ director of parks, recreation and culture Diane Chamberlain said, “there are still more questions than answers.”
The city’s pool will remain closed for the season, she said.
“The outdoor swimming pool is very small, and with COVID restrictions, it would limit capacity to nine people, which doesn’t make it feasible to open.”
Pitt Meadows’ fitness centre remained open during the provincial ‘circuit breaker’ enacted in late March, so there will not be much change there, Chamberlain noted.
“People will still have to wear masks (when using the gym) in the first two phases,” she said.
One of the changes most anticipated is the return to indoor group fitness, but it will be of the low intensity variety for now.
The city has run pilates, yoga, and chair fitness classes outside for the last few months, and will now have the option of a roof and walls around the session.
Participants will be required to wear masks during the indoor classes, however.
“It’s that balance of finding, would people rather be outside on a cold cloudy day, and not wear a masks, or would they prefer to be inside,” Chamberlain said.
“So we’re trying to work with our customers to follow all the rules and still be able to provide them with the best service possible.”
If the COVID-19 case numbers continue to trend downward, and the populations vaccination rate increases, Chamberlain foresees a possibility of high intensity fitness classes returning indoors by July 1.
For now, she said staff are excited about outdoor sports being allowed again.
While conditions are still being discussed with ViaSport and the B.C. Recreation and Parks Association, Chamberlain predicts protocols where on-field interactions will look like they did pre-pandemic, while players and coaches will wear masks and distance off the pitch.
Maple Ridge’s director of recreation and community engagement, Danielle Pope, said residents can expect the city’s new summer recreation guide to be released on June 11.
“Our approach has been to develop programming that’s consistent with the existing health orders, and we await the new WorkSafeBC guidelines for each phase of the restart plan,” she said.
“Our programming teams are reviewing the information that was provided in the (May 25) briefing to develop longer term plans for our recreation offerings. We note that the move from phase-to-phase will be driven by metrics around case rates, hospitalizations and the overall rate of vaccination rather than the dates.”
Pope said the move towards restarting recreation is a great opportunity to remind citizens about the importance of registering for and getting vaccinations as soon as possible.
“We have been adapting our programs to meet the health orders with the goal to move forward safely and carefully as the risk of transmission diminishes as more of us are protected by the COVID vaccines,” she said.
“We look forward to offering a wide range of summer programs including drive-ins at Golden Ears Winter Club, music and cultural performances in Memorial Peace Park, pop-up recreation in the parks and a host summer program offerings such as our popular day camps and swim lessons.”
As the weather improves, Pope said, city staff are excited to help citizens lead active lives in Maple Ridge facilities and around the community in neighbourhood parks and green spaces.
Chamberlain also noted there will be some culture treats in Pitt Meadows.
“We are hoping to have some pop-up entertainers in parks, but to keep numbers down, we won’t advertise them,” she said.
“Throughout the summer we’re hoping to have performances from small bands, or stilt walkers or artists.”
She envisions them showing up in a park and entertaining people for a short period of time, before leaving for another location.
“It should help lift spirits in the summer time for sure,” Chamberlain said.
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