The Vancouver Park Board (VPB) said on Friday that it plans to open more than 50 facilities over the next six weeks, beginning with 24 community centres across the city on Tuesday, September 8.
This will then be followed by “a phased reopening” of eight indoor pools, eight ice rinks, and 14 fitness centres.
The VPB said that community centres jointly operated by Community Centre Associations (CCAs) and the Park Board and priority programs and services focusing on children, youth, seniors, and food security will be the first to restart.
Park Board Flexipasses will not be accepted at this time, as the program is currently suspended until the end of the month.
Hours of operation and information on how to reserve recreation services at various facilities will be available online.
Indoor pools will begin reopening on September 14, starting with Hillcrest, Kerrisdale, Britannia and the Vancouver Aquatic Centre. The remaining four pools, Killarney, Templeton, Lord Byng, and Renfrew, will open next month with a target date of October 13.
The VPB said Kensington pool will not reopen this fall due to its size, “which is too small to safely accommodate the physical distancing required for aquatic use during the pandemic.”
Casual swimmers can book a 90-minute swim session, while lane swimmers can book a 45-minute swim session online, up to 72 hours in advance. There will be a 45-minute break between swim sessions, at which time the pool will be cleared and facilities will be sanitized to prepare for the next group.
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As the pools are different sizes, the capacity of each pool will vary. Individual lanes (for length swimming) have a maximum capacity of six swimmers per double-wide lane. Patrons are not to gather at the same end of the lane nor change lanes during the swim.
Saunas and steam rooms will remain closed. Only hot tubs large enough for safe use will be open. As the hot tubs will be limited in capacity, patrons will be asked to limit their time to 10 minutes, giving other visitors an opportunity for access.
There will be no rentals of swimming goggles, kickboards, snorkels or towels. Snorkels are not permitted. Kickboards may be used if patrons bring their own.
The first fitness centres will open September 14 and will include Trout Lake, Hillcrest, Dunbar, Kitsilano, Champlain Heights, Mount Pleasant, and Creekside (which will only offer personal training at this time). The following month, seven more fitness centres will open on Oct. 13: Kensington, Marpole, Strathcona, Lord Byng, Templeton, Renfrew, and the Vancouver Aquatic Centre facility. The remaining fitness centres located within Community Centres are operated independently by CCAs. Those CCAs will determine later this fall if or when their facilities will open.
In order to maintain physical distancing, a limited number of users will be permitted in the fitness centres at a time (the number of spaces will vary depending on the size of each facility). Visitors can book a one-hour session up to 72 hours in advance online.
Park Board arenas will begin reopening on September 21 with ice going in first at Trout Lake, Sunset, Kerrisdale, and Britannia.
On September 28, Hillcrest Killarney rinks will open.
The remaining two arenas, Kitsilano and the West End, will open on October 5. Arenas will begin by opening for organized play by permit-holders, sport and team bookings only, with public skating, lessons, and recreational use coming later in the fall.
A “thoughtful and phased approach”
“The park board is taking a thoughtful and phased reopening and recovery approach in alignment with BC’s Restart Plan, and in consultation with various government and non-government agencies and partners,” said the VPB in a release.
“The Park Board has undertaken an extensive signage campaign at each of its facilities to educate patrons on new processes, procedures, and COVID-19 safety measures.”
Among these measures, “wearing masks inside facilities will be optional at this time and is encouraged. Staff will undergo daily health screenings, complete additional safety training, and follow new safety protocols. Programs are being offered in a staggered format to reduce the number of individuals in a space at any given time. In some facilities furniture has been removed or reconfigured to allow for additional physical space.”
Anyone accessing public recreational facilities or services is reminded to stay home if feeling unwell, exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19, or if they have travelled outside of Canada within the previous 14 days.
Since May, the Park Board has reopened golf courses, VanDusen Botanical Garden, Bloedel Conservatory, tennis and pickleball courts, pitch & putts, skate parks, synthetic sports fields, basketball and volleyball courts, disc golf, roller hockey, multisport courts, playgrounds, spray parks, outdoor pools, day camps and childcare services.